[nfbwatlk] FW: How Disability Simulations Promote Damaging Stereotypes

Debby Phillips semisweetdebby at gmail.com
Wed Oct 23 02:10:08 UTC 2013


I would, in general, agree, though for me experiencing other disabilities in a simulated situation was interesting, and has made me less insular.  Sometimes we do not have a lot of compassion about other disabilities, though I hope that is changing.  When I observe a person coping with their disabilities, I am rrealize that sometimes my attitudes have had to adjust.  The thought of forever being in a wheelchair or losing my hearing fill me with dread, or to lose the feeling in my hands because of some sort of neuropathy terrifies me.  But then I remember that many people are very fearful about being blind, and have to realize that people cope with their disabilities just as well, or just as badly as many of us cope with living with blindness.    Peace,    Debby

Sent from my iPhone

> On Oct 22, 2013, at 5:10 PM, "Mary ellen" <gabias at telus.net> wrote:
> 
> This is very well written.  Thanks for passing it along, Mike.
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nfbwatlk [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Mello,
> Michael (DSB)
> Sent: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 4:08 PM
> To: nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org
> Subject: [nfbwatlk] FW: How Disability Simulations Promote Damaging
> Stereotypes
> 
> Good afternoon,
> I thought this topic would be an interesting discussion for our list.
> Thanks.
> 
> 
> 
> Michael J. Mello | Adaptive Technology Specialist Washington State
> Department of Services for the Blind
> Direct: 206-906-5552
> Toll Free: 800-552-7103
> Mobile: 206-605-7332
> Fax: 206-721-4103
> Michael.Mello at dsb.wa.gov
> 3411 South Alaska Street
> Seattle, WA 98118
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Adreon, Mark (DSB)
> Sent: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 2:49 PM
> To: DSB DL Vocational Rehab Group
> Cc: MacKillop, Michael (DSB); Adreon, Mark (DSB)
> Subject: FW: How Disability Simulations Promote Damaging Stereotypes
> 
> Please read the information  below as this has been an area of concern for a
> while now and might deserve some DSB conversation.
> 
> Even if we agree upon a disclaimer, it might support a stronger perspective
> without supporting false assumptions.
> 
> 
> 
> Mark Adreon 
> 
> Program and Employment Specialist 
> 
> 
> 
> 3411 South Alaska St.
> 
> Seattle, WA   98118
> 
> 206.906.5502
> 
> mark.adreon at dsb.wa.gov Check our web site at :       www.dsb.wa.gov 
> 
> 
> 
> From: Olson, Toby (ESD) [mailto:TOlson2 at ESD.WA.GOV]
> Sent: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 11:54 AM
> To: GCDE-INFO at LISTSERV.WA.GOV
> Subject: How Disability Simulations Promote Damaging Stereotypes
> 
> 
> 
> How Disability Simulations Promote Damaging Stereotypes
> 
> 
> 
> October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Disability
> History Month here in Washington State. Disability awareness events held in
> October often include disability simulation exercises, in which participants
> who don't have a disability will spend some time using a wheelchair, or
> wearing a blindfold. More sophisticated exercises might also include
> headphones with white noise generators to simulate a hearing loss, or boxes
> in which participants can attempt to perform tasks while watching their
> hands reflected by a series of mirrors to provide a sense of the effects of
> a specific learning disability. 
> 
> 
> 
> While these exercises are popular and can help the participants to become
> more aware of some of the environmental barriers people with disabilities
> encounter, many people with disabilities and disability organizations are
> concerned that they create an inaccurate perception of the experience of
> living with a disability. The fear is that simulations actually reinforce
> the inaccurate negative stereotypes that often limit opportunities for
> people with disabilities in education and employment.
> 
> 
> 
> If you participate in a simulation, what you experience will not be at all
> like a slice from the life of a person who has lived with that disability
> for any time. The difference will not be because you'll know that you'll be
> taking off the blindfold or walking away from the wheelchair at the end. The
> difference will be because, without any of the coping skills and techniques
> people with disabilities create and master throughout their lives, the best
> you will be able to manage will be to emulate the experience of being the
> single most hapless, incompetent individual with that particular disability
> on the face of the planet.
> 
> 
> 
> Participants in disability simulations experience their adopted disabilities
> as a series of discoveries of things they can't do. They can leave the
> exercise imagining an unbroken string of those discoveries stretching out
> for a lifetime. Those who have had a disability all our lives haven't
> experienced our disabilities that way. For those who have acquired a
> disability, that experience is usually a relatively brief transition phase.
> The long term experience of living with a disability is more aptly
> characterized as adapting, adjusting and developing new ways to do things
> when the usual ways don't work. It is more commonly the active pursuit of an
> expanding life, not mourning for a contracting one.
> 
> 
> 
> I have heard simulations compared to putting on blackface, but disability
> simulations have nothing to do with the contempt and ridicule that were the
> essence of the minstrel shows. Most people in the disability community
> appreciate that simulations represent a sincere interest in improving
> understanding and a willingness to put time and effort toward that goal.
> Still, we cannot help but be concerned that participants who leave a
> simulation imagining life with a disability as an endlessly shrinking spiral
> of frustration and loss might be even less comfortable associating with
> people who have disabilities than they were before. Those whose take away
> from the exercise is frustration at the inability to complete simple daily
> activities, could, as a result, be less able to recognize the substantive
> contributions a job applicant with a disability is ready make to their
> organization's bottom line. 
> 
> 
> 
> If there is one thing about the experience of disability that everyone needs
> to understand, it is that the chronic unemployment and resulting poverty
> that are far too common among working-age people with disabilities are not
> natural consequences of disability. The best exercise for improving
> awareness on that issue is the one where we all recruit, hire and work
> alongside people who have disabilities. That exercise has the added benefit
> of allowing us to discover what people who have so much experience devising
> innovative, practical solutions to unusual problems can add to our
> organizations' strengths.          
> 
> 
> 
> Toby Olson
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> Toby Olson, MPA
> 
> Executive Secretary
> 
> Governor's Committee on Disability Issues and Employment
> 
> 360-725-9547
> 
> tolson2 at esd.wa.gov
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
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