Able SC Statement On Disability Simulations
Disability simulations are exercises in which participants without disabilities spend time using a wheelchair, wearing a blindfold, wearing headphones or other simulations in which participants can attempt to experience the barriers persons with disabilities may encounter while performing everyday tasks.
While the intention of a simulation may be to bring awareness to the barriers faced by persons with disabilities, simulations do not accurately convey the lived experiences of a person with that disability. They do not take into account how people learn to adapt over time or any other personal experiences or skill sets each individual has. Instead, these events often lead to the promotion of stereotypes including increased anxiety about associating with individuals with disabilities and misunderstandings about disability experiences.
While the intent of these events is to promote inclusion, disability simulation exercises can often be exclusive as it is most common to simulate physical disabilities, excluding the experiences of those with cognitive, learning, psychiatric, and other disabilities that may not be visible.
Programming designed to bring awareness and cultivate inclusion that is less problematic and more beneficial can include talking to a person with a disability about their lived experiences, direct contact with assistive technology (AT) and demonstrations on how a person with a disability uses that AT, sessions on disability awareness, history and pride, and other activities.
Able SC Disability Simulation Position Statement
For the above-mentioned reasons, the Able SC in the strongest way possible discourages disability simulation exercises and instead promotes interaction with persons with disabilities, as it is more effective at building disability pride and cultivating awareness, inclusion, and true understanding.