Division of Disability and Health Policy

Disability History Awareness Month

New Mexico Young Disability Leaders in Senate Chambers before Senate Joint Memorial 17 was passed photo

In 2013, the New Mexico Youth Disability Leaders celebrated the successful approval of Senate Joint Memorial 17 (SJM17) officially designating October as Disability History and Awareness Month and recommending "Disability History and Awareness" instruction in public schools during October of each year.

As SJM17 says, "...each school to provide disability history and awareness instruction to grades kindergarten through twelve every October,...to expand student's knowledge, understanding and awareness of individuals with disabilities, the history of disability and the disability rights movement."

Ways to observe Disability History and Awareness Month, according to SJM17 include: "...that disability awareness instruction be integrated into existing school curricula by:

  • supplementing lesson plans,
  • inviting classroom and assembly speakers with experience or expertise on disabilities, or by
  • providing other school-related activities

...delivered by...knowledgeable guest speakers, including people with disabilities."

The intention of this Memorial is to provide a tool for improving attitudes of students who may discriminate against others who are different through an understanding of the history of disability, rights movement and awareness.

The New Mexico Young Disability Leaders (NMYDL) developed, piloted and finalized three teaching tools to observe Disability History and Awareness Month in October for schools, communities, organizations and individuals to use. In addition, NMYDL offers train-the-trainer sessions for each tool. Email Barbara Ibanez at bibanez@salud.unm.edu for more information.

1. "Disability Leaders Camp" Curriculum

2. "Focus on the Future; Don't Forget the Past" Skit

3. "What Do You See When You Look at Me?" Presentation


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This project is funded by the New Mexico Department of Health through a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

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