Disability simulation is an In-valid tool for learning

I have always been somewhat suspicious of simulations of disability, no matter what the context. How easy is it really to replicate someone’s experience? I use the analogy of labour and childbirth. While I might wish that long and uncomfortable experience of mine on a few males of my acquaintance, I defy modern physical science and psychology to do so. Without the psychological makeup of whatever kind, the preceding experience and the relevant anatomical makeup the simulation would be meaningless.

It goes without question that no one these days would suggest an attempt to simulate belonging to another race as a valid or ethical activity.

While simulation exercises may claim to give insight into the experience of impairment and disability, the so called insight can be positive or negative, depending on how the recipient processes the experience. They could end up believing that the utter helplessness or disempowerment they may feel in such an unfamiliar situation is the everyday experience of all disabled people, which would be counterproductive, and false.

Disabled people do not experience disability in this way. Even if the onset is sudden there is usually some way of learning to cope and adapt before being thrown into a newly unfamiliar world. Disabled people in my experience are very creative and adaptable.

It is one experience, that’s all it is. Disabled people are as different as everyone else, and each disabled person will experience their life in a different way, as non-disabled people do.

Disability simulation is not a game either. It often is in simulation exercises which is trivialising and rather insulting. While living with disability has its fun side, it is generally not a game.

Finally, and most importantly – What’s wrong with listening to our voices as disabled people? Our voices are valid and credible, and yes they will be different and reflect different experiences. But they will tell it like it is, from our perspective.

If non-disabled people want to make a difference to the lives of disabled people in a disabling world they should hear those voices and act on what they learn from disabled people themselves, rather than trying to appropriate our experience and reflect it through a non-disabled world view.

Simulating disability is like simulating labour and childbirth, impossible. Get over it.


Filed under Disability Issues, Disability Rights, Miscellaneous, Women

2 Responses to Disability simulation is an In-valid tool for learning

  1. Graham

    Hi Rob
    Yes, tend to agree. It is always best to ask, not assume. Certainly has an ‘ick factor, the idea of ‘simulation’.
    I do believe that there is a virtual birthing centre in 2nd Life, organised by a New Zealander ‘Sarah Stewart’ but I know nothing about it.
    Take Care

  2. Hi Graham
    Great to hear from you. I don’t know much about second life, But I can’t believe it could inflict pain!

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