Document Type

Capstone Project (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


Liberal Studies


Liberal Studies

First Advisor

Browning Neddeau


This paper is an exploration into the topic of teaching elementary school students about empathy towards individuals with specific disabilities. The participants for the Capstone Project included 18 second-grade students and 22 fourth-grade students in a public elementary school located on California’s Central Coast. The researcher wrote two lesson plans including a pre-simulation survey, a short lecture, a physical education game, and a post-simulation survey in order to teach empathy and to gauge students’ understanding of the topic. With the use of a physical education game, blacked-out swimming goggles, ear plugs, and socks, students were able to experience the realities of certain disabilities. The researcher found disability simulations to be the best method of teaching the complicated emotion of empathy. As a future special educator, the researcher understood the importance of students’ knowledge of empathy toward individuals with disabilities within the school and community.