Visual arts, writing help understanding of disabilities

As part of the Disability Disclosure class taught by Brenda Van Vugt and Linda Peterson at Robbinsdale Transition Center, students were asked to practice their reading and writing skills by producing a short statement about their disability and a book review about an individual with a disability. Students were also asked to prepare a short paraphrase of a portion of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and explain the rights that individuals with disabilities gained through that act.

Students were also given an opportunity to use visual arts to produce two squares for a quilt–one about themselves and one about an individual with a disability that they researched. Each student was then asked to give a short speech at the magazine release and quilt unveiling. About 60 people attended the April 20 event, including the Robbinsdale School District special education administrators, school staff, students, family members and friends.

Four students were interviewed to get their reaction to the class and reception. They were asked the following questions:

  • What was the most important lesson you learned from the Disability Disclosure class?
  • What was the one thing you learned from the Disabilities History and Culture class?
  • What is the one thing you would like people to know about how you deal with your disability?
  • What are your plans for the future?
  • What is the one thing you would like people to know about you?


Meet the students:

Damonte: In the Disability Disclosure class, I liked talking about our disability. It felt comfortable. It also taught me to connect with others and to understand their disability. In the class, I liked reading the books and I learned that everyone has a community they can belong to and everyone has a purpose. I get along fine with my disability. You can do more than you think you can if you put your mind to it. I’m a good leader but sometimes it’s better to be a follower. I plan on joining the police reserves and getting a job through Goodwill. I want people to know what we go through every day. It’s painful when others see us as not normal. What is normal? We all have issues we live with.


Deon: I liked the reading and volunteering we did in the Disability Disclosure class. I learned from the Disability History and Culture class that it’s okay to have a disability and it’s okay to open up and talk about it. What I want people to know about me is that I’m helpful and I’m a good listener. I plan on painting houses and doing construction work. The reception helped me to open up a lot more, to express myself and it felt great to feel like a family.


Elizabeth: In the Disability Disclosure class I learned how to address my disabilities with the help of managers and school counselors. In the Disabilities History and Culture Class, I learned about autism through reading. Before I was scared of people who had autism, now I’m more comfortable with it. My plans for the future are to get married and become a family and to attend college and become a psychologist or mentor. I want people to know that I’m a very open and serious person. My disability will not overcome me. When people get to know and understand better, they will realize that disability does not define a person.


Amy: Before I was in the Disability Disclosure class, I felt that disability was a negative. Now I am okay with it. In the Disability History and Culture class, I learned that persons with disabilities have accomplished many things. I also designed the front cover of reflections Magazine. I want people to know what this place, (the Robbinsdale Transition Center), is and what they accomplish here. I plan on working in childcare. I want to attend art classes so that I can illustrate books for the children.