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‘Abbott Elementary’ opens its second season with a focus on accessibility

ABC sitcom hit Abbott Elementary School returned to air on September 21, focusing on accessibility and representation in elementary schools.

After a successful first season that engaged viewers with an endearing, yet harshly realistic look at the teachers and students who make up Philadelphia’s public school system, the sitcom’s second-season premiere picked up where its predecessor left off. was arrested.

As teachers, staff members, and fan-favorite principal Ava Coleman, played by Janelle James, prepare for another year at the fictional Willard R. Abbott Public School, two teachers facing unique challenges are put in… light alongside Emmy-winning star and showrunner Quinta Brunson.

Kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard, played by fellow Emmy winner Sheryl Lee Ralph, is tasked with finding a specialized office for a new student who uses a wheelchair, largely due to broken promises associated with a grant given to the school at the end of the first season.

History teacher Jacob Hill, played by Chris Perfetti, is in a slightly different position. After taking a summer course in American Sign Language (ASL), Hill expresses her desire to pass on her learnings to the rest of the Abbott Elementary School crew, but encounters a lackluster response.

However, Hill’s signature abilities – albeit rudimentary – come into use at the end of the episode, when a deaf student arrives on the first day of school and Hill is able to introduce himself and strike up a warm dialogue. and welcoming.

Howard’s resolve is longer, but just as rewarding.

Despite the difficulties in acquiring a wheelchair accessible office, it is revealed that part of the Season 1 grant was used to install a ramp in front of the school. And as the episode draws to a close, first-grade teacher Gregory Eddie, played by Tyler James Williams, uses a bit of ingenuity and locates the exact desk needed stowed in the storage area of ​​the school.

During a recent Zoom roundtable, United Press International reported that Brunson pointed to his mother’s experiences teaching a blind student as inspiration for the two scenarios involving accessibility – or lack thereof – in the middle. school.

“They weren’t necessarily giving my mom resources to help her with this blind student,” Brunson said. “When something like a disability comes into play, what does that mean for someone like Barbara who wants to do the best for her students but is not supported?

“A lot of people in this country have disabilities,” Brunson added. “Not all are visible.”

Like many instances throughout the first season of Abbott Elementary Schoolthe focus on improving accessibility in underfunded schools caught the attention of Twitter users, many of whom were moved by the heavy emphasis on adequate representation.

“The way #abbottelementary is so down to earth about inclusion and diversity,” one Twitter user posted, attaching a clip of Hill using ASL to communicate with a deaf student. “As a teacher I see these children every day and they are often not represented in any type of media, thank you [Abbott] for that!”

“Watching Abbott Elementary on lunch break and the choice to help and advocate for black children with disabilities brings me to tears,” @robertjmonson said, including clips of Hill and Howard.

“This scene and when Greg looked for a desk for the precious in a wheelchair? they added, attaching several crying emojis.

“So many times in my student life I’ve had desks that didn’t fit or didn’t fit at all, especially in lecture halls,” Twitter user @SFdirewolf added. Seeing the wheelchair student so motivated to go to school at #AbbottElementary walk up the ramp [and] in the classroom gave me all the SENSE.

“That’s why #RepresentationMatters,” they added.

Abbott Elementary School airs at 9 p.m. EST Wednesday nights on ABC.

Pleasemynews has contacted ABC for comment.

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