Project Ideas for People With Disabilities

Work area at the johnson wax building, headquarters of the s.c. johnson and son co.jpg

Projects -- rather than isolated activities that may not follow a logical sequence or be connected -- are an effective way to coordinate, monitor and evaluate progress with people who have disabilities. The range of disabilities under the rubric includes being physically or intellectually challenged or hearing or sight impaired. When working with a group of people who have a range of disabilities, it is important to make sure the projects allow everyone to participate. Try to build in components where the people with disabilities help each other, as peer education is beneficial to all parties.

1 History

Study historical figures who overcame their disabilities and made a contribution. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for example, served three terms as president of the U.S., yet most people didn’t know he was in a wheelchair. Dorothea Lange walked with a limp from polio, but went on to travel the world. According to Disability History, Lange credits her disability with helping her become a great photographer of the world’s disenfranchised. “Blind Tom” Wiggins is an example of an autistic musician who played in American and European concert halls. Draw pictures of the historical figures as part of an art project.

2 Art

Set up an art project with the idea of each person with a disability creating a portfolio. Rather than doing water colors one week and sketches the next to keep individuals busy, develop art as a project so that the students develop certain skills before moving on to the next level. Have an exhibit at the end of the project so students can invite family and friends to see their work.

3 Music

Develop a music program that incorporates elements of music appreciation, listening, singing and dancing. Although people who are hearing impaired can’t hear the music, they can feel the vibration if you put the speakers on the floor. And wheelchair users can dance to the beat of the music in their chairs. Listen to the music "Blind Tom" Wiggins played.

4 Outdoor Projects

Set up an outdoor area and study the ecosystem found there. Have the hearing-impaired individuals describe the grass, insects and birds to the visually impaired. Make it a collective project and have students work in groups to produce scrapbooks. Draw pictures of the ecosystem for the art project and listen to nature recordings as part of the music project.

5 Physical Projects

Set up a project that involves improving physical fitness. Include activities such as swimming, bowling -- good for eye-hand coordination -- cross-country skiing or hiking. When the group goes walking, have the visually impaired push the wheelchair users, who have to direct the pushers by telling them where to go.

Jody Hanson began writing professionally in 1992 to help finance her second around-the-world trip. In addition to her academic books, she has written for "International Living," the "Sydney Courier" and the "Australian Woman's Forum." Hanson holds a Ph.D. in adult education from Greenwich University.