Mrs. Yael Zelinger, Disability and Inclusion Associate with the Center for Jewish Learning (CJE), teaches American Sign Language (ASL) in the High School. Mrs. Zelinger and her 11th grade ASL class recently had a fascinating discussion. As the girls were being taught the song
"Deaf Man in the Shteibel" in sign language, one girl commented, "I feel so bad for deaf people; they cannot hear music."
The lesson was tabled as Mrs. Zelinger and the class launched into an animated discussion about disabilities. One girl disclosed that she has dyslexia but grapples with the term "disability." Everyone was involved, as they talked about what it means to be disabled vs. having a disability. Do people with disabilities have strengths they can share, teach, or contribute? Do they want our pity? Need our pity? Do any of us want to be known for our weaknesses ...or our strengths? As one girl started walking out in the middle of the class, the teacher commented, "Don't stay out because this may be the most important discussion of your life." The student promptly sat down.