What are Alternatives to Disability-Related Simulations to Promote Disability Awareness?

Sheryl Burgstahler, DO-IT Director

In the last issue of DO-IT News, we touched upon disability-related simulations. Disability-related simulations, where a person supposedly experiences what it’s like to have a disability by covering their eyes or maneuvering in a wheelchair, are often criticized because they promote negative stereotypes of helplessness. At best, they only simulate an initial experience with a disability, not the experience of someone who has learned the skills of using a wheelchair or other assistive devices and strategies to accomplish tasks.

A panel of students with disabilities.

This topic is one that people often bring up when engaging with the disability community and looking for ways to include others.  Instead of having a simulation, I often recommend hosting a panel of individuals with disabilities who can share their personal experiences and make direct connections with an audience. Another way to do this is to show videos of real individuals with disabilities sharing their experiences, including challenges as well as solutions. We recommend a few YouTube Channels  and videos listed here:

You can learn more about simulations and alternative activities to simulations by consulting the following articles: