DO-IT Show and Tell: A Promising Practice for Creating Positive Attitudes About Disability

Date Updated

In elementary school, "show and tell" activities provide an opportunity for both fun and learning. Typical show and tell sessions let students share their experiences and introduce children to the different perceptions, environments, and interests of their fellow classmates. DO-IT Show and Tell expands on the theories and practices of traditional show and tell activities.

DO-IT Show and Tell, originally funded by Visio Corporation in 1996, is a promising practice that acquaints youngsters with people who have disabilities and way cool technology. The DO-IT Show and Tell experience helps children develop positive attitudes and perceptions of people with disabilities, develop problem-solving skills, and experience how people with disabilities use computers and perform day-to-day tasks. Project staff collaborate with elementary teachers to bring a presenter with a disability, usually a successful college student, into a first grade classroom.

During the visit, the presenter shares information about his or her disability, sets up problem-solving activities in which the children participate, answers questions, and demonstrates his or her technology. For example, Imke Durre, a postdoctoral student at the University of Washington, brought along her computer that talks. Since Imke is blind, she does not require the use of a monitor. Instead, she uses a refreshable Braille display and speech output. The children loved to hear her computer talk. She also demonstrated how she uses a cane for mobility and brought along a child-size cane for the children to try. She showed them the alphabet in Braille and produced each child's name in Braille for them to keep.

Feedback from teachers, parents, and students suggest that DO-IT Show and Tell isn't about CHANGING attitudes about people with disabilities, but rather CREATING positive attitudes before attitudes have been developed. The comfort level of the students has been reflected in the questions they have asked, including "Can you see with your eyes closed?" Quotations in their thank-you notes to the presenter reflect what they learned, including "I learned blind people can get jobs"; "We learned that blind people can read by touching those dots."

DO-IT encourages schools and other organizations to replicate this promising practice. Teachers can contact local high school counselors to locate a speaker for their class. Or, they could contact Easter Seals, Community Services for the Blind, or other organizations for assistance in locating the speaker.

Implementation steps, a typical DO-IT Show and Tell visit and follow-up activities, and evaluation results are described in the publication DO-IT Show and Tell, A Promising Practice.