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Disability History and Awareness Month

  • Culture Appreciation
Disability History and Awareness Month
Disability History and Awareness Month banner

Disability History and Awareness Month takes place during October to increase awareness, respect, and acceptance for people with disabilities, and to bring a greater sense of pride to people with disabilities.

Join FWPS, in centering the voices and expanding the narratives of people with disabilities to support inclusive school communities. Did you know, one out of five people in the United States has a disability. To help commemorate Disability History and Awareness Month and the vast contributions people with disabilities have made to our schools and communities, the Washington State Office of the Education Ombuds (OEO) created a video series centering student voice as a learning resource.

Watch the Office of Education Ombuds “One out of Five” video playlist.

Learn more and find additional stories and resources below this month:

Ability Awareness Screening

In recognition of Disability History and Awareness Month, we’re spotlighting our scholars who participated in completing the second installment of a four-year video series for the Ability Awareness project, a partnership between KBTC and the Federal Way Public Schools Employment Transition Program. The goal of the project is to provide neurodivergent youth and those with disabilities the opportunity to share their voices through the creation of short-form videos that address life skills needed by all young people as they transition to the world of employment and independent living.

The first set of videos were released last year on the topics of:


This year, we are proud to showcase the second installment on the topics of:

Money Management
Mental Health
Making Friends

In these videos, scholars from the Employment Transition Program in FWPS share their tips and ideas for managing money, making smart financial decisions for a secure future, and the importance of budgeting, saving, and investing.

Ability Awareness Screening group photo

Scholars also share their diverse perspectives on mental health to help break the stigma surrounding mental health and promote open dialogue and lastly, they talk about the importance of fostering friendships in adulthood, a topic often overlooked. Click on the links to watch the videos and join them as they explore the dynamics of adult friendships and share their thoughts on forming positive, inclusive connections.


Deaf and Hard of Hearing program aiding scholars throughout FWPS

TBHS scholar

In recognition of Disability History and Awareness Month this October, we would like to spotlight our Federal Way Public Schools’ Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH) which provides comprehensive and appropriate services for scholars in preschool through Grade 12 (or age 21) in the least restrictive environment possible to support scholar success.

The program was founded in 2006 and originally started with two teachers. It is now composed of multiple dedicated staff members and scholars have access to a diverse array of helpers determined by a student’s individual education plan such as Teachers of the Deaf, Educational Audiologist, Sign Language Interpreters, Occupational Therapist or Physical Therapist, Speech and Language Therapist, and more. FWPS is currently serving approximately 70 scholars district wide in addition to building partnerships and expanding learning opportunities.

D/HH programs are located at Sherwood Forest Elementary, Illahee Middle School, and Todd Beamer High School. Diagnostic assessments are given to children suspected of hearing loss to determine and recommend to families an appropriate education setting for their scholars. Some students' needs are met in a general education classroom with supplemental aids and services and/or with a sign language interpreter while other students thrive in a self-contained D/HH program.

TBHS Scholar and Teacher

During a recent visit to Todd Beamer High School’s D/HH advisory class, scholars held American Sign Language conversations with their sign language interpreter, teachers, and staff members, and actively participated in learning activities, playing games, and diligently keep up with their schoolwork. This well-rounded approach to education fosters an environment of continuous growth and development to prepare scholars for post-secondary outcomes, independent living, and support job experience opportunities.

TBHS Scholar and Teacher

There are also Sign Clubs in schools and additional learning opportunities and events throughout the school year such as the Junior Achievement’s BizTown where scholars can tour a virtual simulated town alongside other districts’ D/HH scholars and more. Support for scholars continues throughout high school, with scholars in D/HH graduating from the FWPS high school program and being accepted into college, attending trade schools, and moving into careers and professions.

FWPS’s provides equitable education to all scholars and D/HH provides that for the scholars who benefit from their expertise in reaching the limitless potential within. Join FWPS to expand the narratives of people with disabilities and increase awareness, respect, and acceptance for people with disabilities this October during Disability History and Awareness Month.

Adelaide’s Functional Core Program Class and Peers Participated in a “Mud Pies” Cooking Activity

a Functional Core Class in action

As part of Disability History and Awareness Month, we’re spotlighting the Functional Core Program (FCP) classes that provide specially designed instructions to scholars with identified disabilities to support their academic and social-emotional skills.

Over at Adelaide Elementary, success for Federal Way Public School scholars in our district is evident through services such as the FCP classroom. FCP Teacher Miss Veentjer and paraeducators provide a school environment that fosters growth, where students gain skills and knowledge that consider their abilities and needs.

a Functional Core Class in action

Ms. Veentjer explains that her FCP class “is a fabulous group of 3rd-5th grade scholars that have a variety of disabilities. Our schedule consists of all academic areas of math, reading and writing. Also included in our schedule are times focused on learning specific skills depending on each individual student.”

In addition, Adelaide fosters an inclusive school learning environment by having scholars in their Functional Core Program join in on their General Education class for various academics and learning opportunities with their peers. During a recent visit, the FCP class invited their peers to join in on a fun “mud pie” cooking activity. This activity is a treat made by crushing Oreo cookies, mixing that into pudding, and adding in a couple of gummy worms. With assistance from the staff, the invited students paired up with students in the FCP class, and they worked together to make the mud pie. Each scholar pitched in and after following the instructions from Miss Veentjer, and once everybody completed making their own “mud pie”, they got to finish the assignment: eating it! Miss Veentjer stated, “[we have] a cooking activity to teach the students how to prepare simple meals for themselves and follow a basic recipe. This helps them practice following a recipe, [teach] independence with basic skills of opening necessary items and preparing for themselves. We make ‘mud pie’ every year and the kids love it.”

Disability History and Awareness Month centers the story around people with disabilities to promote awareness, respect, and acceptance. Adelaide’s FCP classroom provides this by creating an inclusive space for our scholars to learn from one another and thrive in a classroom to grow into their authentic selves here in FWPS.

a Functional Core Class in action