Creating Stigma-Free Classrooms

Learn about the impact stigma can have on your students and develop the awareness and tools you need to work against stigma.

Creating Stigma-Free Classrooms
  • Getting Started
  • Planning
  • Liberated Learning Environments

Creating Stigma-Free Classrooms


Educate yourself on the range of disabilities and common stigmas.


Use respectful, age appropriate, transparent communication.


Just like identities, disabilities aren’t always easily noticeable. Have an awareness, respect, and sensitivity to what may not be seen.

The Impact of Stigma Matters

Understanding stigma and its impact on individuals and classrooms empowers you to be compassionate educators that preserve and protect the dignity and lived experience of students with disabilities.


  • Isolates individuals.
  • Segregates learners.
  • Infects policy-making.
  • Emerges as structural and social discrimination.

Artists in Conversation around Stigma

Maysoon Zayid, Comedian, Actress, Disability Advocate & Tap Dancer

“‘I have cerebral palsy. I shake all the time,’ Maysoon Zayid announces at the beginning of this exhilarating, hilarious talk. (Really, it’s hilarious.) ‘I’m like Shakira meets Muhammad Ali.’ With grace and wit, the Arab-American comedian takes us on a whistle-stop tour of her adventures as an actress, stand-up comic, philanthropist and advocate for the disabled.” This talk was presented at an official TED conference. TEDWomen 2013.

Adam Pearson, Broadcast Journalist, Actor, Advocate, & Motivational Speaker

“Adam will share important lessons he has learned while carving out a career for himself in the public eye, whilst overcoming the stigma attached to his disfigurements.” This talk was presented at an official TED conference. TEDxBrighton 2017.

Lindsay Abromatis-Smith, Artist, Writer, & Healer

“I am most proud of the fact that I am still thriving despite my body becoming differently abled. I think my best work has come out of pushing against my limitations.”

Lindsay Abromaitis-Smith has been making art for her entire life. Before being diagnosed with ALS in 2012, Lindsay worked as a puppetry artist, sculptor, and massage therapist. Though she no longer has the use of her arms and hands, she continues to express herself creatively by using her feet to paint.

“Living with ALS is the most difficult thing I have ever done. It has given me so many opportunities to slow down, figure out what is important to me, and shift my perspective of the world.

Photo of Lindsay Abromaitis Smith

Learn more about featuring artists with disabilities in the GIVE Resource: Inclusive Curriculum and Showcasing Artists with Disabilities

External Resources