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CURRICULUM: Dismantling Disability Stereotypes With Political Cartoons

January 1, 2009 Leave a Comment

Students will view political cartoons by Dave Lupton (“Crippen”) that address
stereotypes about people with disabilities. After discussing these stereotypes as well
as the visual qualities of a successful political cartoon, they will make their own car-
toons addressing disability stereotypes.

Download the Curriculum HERE

Middle School Visual Art, Stereotypes


The curriculum will feature a visual arts lesson plan for using political cartoons to engage students in an examination of stereotypes about disability. The curriculum zine will contain the objectives, process, and materials for the plan; artists’ examples; and a list of additional resources on disability studies and disability art.

Three 40-minute class periods


•     Students will demonstrate an understanding of the role of political cartoons in
commenting on current events and social issues. (27.B.3)
•     Students will respond to disability stereotypes in their cartoons. (27.B.3)
•     Students will use figure drawing techniques based on magazine photos to create the
figures in their cartoons. (26.B.3d)
•     Students will use a variety of marker techniques. (26.B.3e)
•     Students will use color and emphasis to enhance the message of their cartoons.


•     Recent local newspapers that contain political cartoons
•     Drawing paper
•     Pencils
•     Markers
•     Black Sharpies
•     Rulers
•     Magazines


Day 1
•     Discuss whether students know anyone with disabilities. Share stories about experi-
ences involving stereotypes these people have had.
•     Brainstorm a list of stereotypes about people with disabilities. Students should be
encouraged to list any stereotypes they’ve ever heard, even if the stereotypes are
“not nice” and aren’t actually believed to be true by the students who list them.
•     View political cartoons by Crippen. Ask students to point out all the visual cues
used by the artist to express his message.
•     Fill out a think sheet (see next page) to plan the content of students’ cartoons.

Day 2
•     Look at Crippen’s cartoons again, this time to see how figures are made up of simple
shapes. View additional political cartoon examples from recent local newspapers to
see the range of types of figures and drawing styles cartoons can contain.
•     Look through magazines to find images of people in poses students want to use in
their cartoons. Draw shapes around the body parts of the figures with black Sharpies
and then transfer the shapes in pencil to a new sheet of paper, adjusting the size if
necessary. (Note: Opportunity to discuss lack of disability imagery in magazines.)
•     With pencil, add clothing, facial details, and surrounding objects/settings to their
figures that help express the message of their cartoons.

Day 3
•     Color in cartoons with markers. Use Sharpies to outline, but not to color in.
•     When cartoons are complete, discuss: What did you learn about people with disabili-
ties that you didn’t know before? What would you say to someone who said some-
thing that indicated he or she believed a stereotype about people with disabilities?


What is a stereotype about people with disabilities?

Do you think that stereotype is true? Why or why not?

If a person believes this stereotype, what is something he or she might say or ask?

Who might that person be talking to? (Who is that comment/question directed toward?)

Is anyone else in the scene? Who?

Describe what the two (or more) people in this scenario might look like. What are they
wearing? What are the expressions on their faces? What physical features do they have
that express something about them?

What are they doing while they’re talking to each other?

Describe the setting where these people might be located. How are they positioned in
relation to each other? What does the background look like? What are some things in
the background that show where they are?


•     www.daveluptoncartoons.co.uk/Crippen/index.html
•     www.disabilityartsonline.org/?location_id=6

More cartoons and comics related to disability:
•     dizABLED (www.dizabled.com/)
•     Madison Clell (www.madisonclell.net/cuckoo_comics/cuckoo_comics.html)
•     Crip Korner (http://cripkorner.tripod.com/toons/page-1.html)
•     Access Living: Arts & Culture Project (www.accessliving.org/index.php?tray=gallery_
•     Disability Arts Online (www.disabilityartsonline.org/home)
•     National Arts and Disability Center (http://nadc.ucla.edu/)
•     VSA Arts (www.vsarts.org/)

Disability publications:
•     New Mobility (http://newmobility.com/index.cfm)
•     Ragged Edge (www.ragged-edge-mag.com/)
•     Disability Studies Quarterly (www.dsq-sds.org/)

Lesson plan by Caitlin O. (costro1@saic.edu)


  • Unknown said:  

    The Download Curriculum link is broken.

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