A couple of weeks ago I posted in response to Marisa Constantinides’ Tefl Matters Blog Challenge – an awareness raising lesson on disability access for EFL/ESL learners.

What I have here is possibly more in the spirit of the original challenge, as it looks more specifically at mobility access issues.

Lead In by asking learners about their days, how were they, what did they do, how do they feel about their day?

Ask learners to jot down an overview of what a typical day represents.  You may want to model this, by describing your day (e.g. My baby daughter usually wakes me up early, so I go and get her up, change her nappy, dress her and then go and give her some breakfast and make myself some coffee and toast.  Then I shower and dress, get ready for work.  Go downstairs open the garage doors, put my daughter in the car, drive to the creche, drop my daughter off….)

This stage has some great opportunities for language input / extension or development, or reformulation of learner utterances.

Once learners have done this, they can mingle or compare in small groups to see who has the most interesting day (content feedback)

If you have the capability, the following YouTube video gives a two minute glimpse into the life of a wheelchair user on her way to work (or a job interview).  A pre-viewing (gist task) might be simply how does the woman’s journey to work differ from your own (to work / school)

(The same film makers have also created videos that examine what it’s like to be either hearing or visually impaired.)

A detailed follow up task (which might also require some vocabulary input/feedback) could be to ask learners to watch again and list all of the obstacles the woman faces in her journey.

Extending out of this, learners can generate ideas in pairs, small groups, with feedback to the board of additional accessibility issues that wheelchair users might face.  These might include:  the height of light switches, work surfaces, desks, drawers and cupboards.  Door sizes and manoeuvrability.  Steps, stairs, drains, ditches, culverts, ramps.  Washing lines?  Where is everything in your house / flat?  DVD player, above or below the TV?  Showers, baths, toilets, bidets, sinks and basins?  Car or public transport?  Hills, slopes, lifts?  There are probably many, many more that I’m missing.

Having thought about the challenges that wheelchair users face, learners can then do an accessibility audit of their lives.   This can either be done with learners auditing their lives and then comparing the results, or with learners interviewing each other and then collating the results.  With lower level classes, you might want to generate a questionnaire to scaffold the interaction.  Results collation could be presented in poster form, charts, graphs, pie charts maybe?

If time, a further discussion could then occur as to what, if any official policy learners’ workplaces or schools possess relating to disability access.


Since Marisa set the original challenge, the following bloggers have contributed lesson ideas and materials:

Vicky Loras has a lesson based around a poem about mobility by A.C. Leming.

Claire Hart has a lesson for business learners about what they can do to make their companies more accessible

Naomi Epstein has a lesson on a poem by deaf poet Curtis Robbins.

Eva Buyuksimkesian posts on a lesson examining what it’s like for disabled people to be “the other” and their dreams.

And of course – here’s my earlier post.

Anyone else feel like giving it a go?  Check out Marisa’s initial post for some background and inspiration.