Understanding Our Differences (UOD) is an acclaimed, time-tested program that uses a hands-on, participatory disability awareness curriculum to foster respect, acceptance, and inclusion for people of all abilities in elementary schools and communities at large.
The UOD approach is grounded in the belief that children are naturally curious about differences, and that accurate information can make the difference between acceptance and discrimination. The UOD program teaches students to be more inclusive and friendly, and to become allies of people with disabilities, with the goal of fostering long-lasting attitude change.
The program consists of ten unit topics covering a range of physical, sensory and developmental disabilities and is designed to seamlessly fit into a typical 3rd to 5th grade curriculum. Each unit is structured to provide accurate background information, hands-on activities, and opportunities to learn from, and connect with, guest speakers with disabilities.
The UOD program is taught by educators, staff and trained volunteer instructors from the communities in which it is presented. This inter-generational approach educates and informs adults as well as children and creates inclusive schools and respectful communities.
The staff, Board of Directors and teams of educators, health professionals, representatives of disability organizations, people with disabilities, and parents of children with disabilities continually review the program materials to ensure current language and perspective, medical accuracy, current assistive technology, and a clear anti-bullying message that promotes inclusion.
How Understanding Our Differences Benefits Children
- Children learn to be more inclusive and friendly.
- Children become more accepting and allies of people with disabilities.
- Children with disabilities and their siblings are less likely to be bullied, teased or isolated.
- Children meet and learn from individuals with disabilities.
- Children become more comfortable around people with all kinds of disabilities.
In 1978, a group of parents of children with disabilities in Newton, Massachusetts founded Understanding Our Differences as a nonprofit organization to increase information, understanding and inclusion of people with disabilities, at a time when their children were in the first cohort to be included in general education classrooms. We invite you to view the video presentation here to learn more about UOD’s history and founding.
The Understanding Our Differences disability awareness curriculum has grown over the years both in the range of topics covered and in the number of schools and youth organizations in Massachusetts and beyond where UOD is presented.