Student wearing blindfold trying to figure her way around at the library
SPD’s Advocacy and Public Education department conducted a disability simulation exercise for a class of 36 students at the ITE College Central on 23 April. The objectives were to increase awareness and help correct misconceptions about people with disabilities. We also hoped that this experience would help participants learn about the challenges that people with disabilities faced and generate greater awareness of their needs.
While the disability simulation exercise was designed to give participants a sense of what it was like to experience a disability, the activities involved were limited and did not represent the actual experiences that people with disabilities faced. Some students were also tasked to be helpers or caregivers to students with simulated disabilities.
Prior to the start of the activities, SPD’s occupational therapist Alan Ong briefed the participants on to the handling of a wheelchair as well as how to guide a wheelchair user or person with visual impairment. With this knowledge, the students with simulated disabilities had to partake in activities such as using the escalator, borrowing books from a library and purchasing items at a supermarket while being blindfolded, wearing a tampered eyewear or seated on a wheelchair. Some were assisted by their fellow classmates.
At the end of the half-day session, the participants were asked to give their feedback on their experiences, share ways on how they overcame the difficulties that they faced and how a disability would impact their lives. Responses ranged from feeling embarrassed, restricted and self-conscious, to difficulties in reaching for items on shelves and lack of concentration during lessons and travelling. Most participants expressed that they had become more appreciative of the abilities of people with disabilities and the experience also prompted them to lend a ready helping hand in future.