Understanding Our Differences (UOD) is a nationally recognized non-profit organization whose mission is to educate communities to value and respect people of all abilities, through school-based interactive disability-awareness programs. The goal is to foster a society that includes people with disabilities – who, at 20 percent of the US population, make up the largest minority group in the country. Since 1978, Understanding our Differences volunteers have regularly been presenting its programs to students in grades 3-5 in our home district of Newton, MA, and in other Massachusetts communities. The lessons increase students’ understanding of a range of disabilities and chronic medical conditions, with visual presentations, hands-on activities, and speakers with disabilities discussing their experiences and answering questions. Accurate information about disabilities makes the difference between discrimination and acceptance, and Understanding Our Differences teaches children – at a young age when they are open and receptive – to be allies, not bullies.
Jeff and Marcia Herrmann (‘73/’74) have been passionate volunteers and supporters of UOD and its mission for decades. Marcia is a Past President of the Board of Directors and continues to serve on the Board.