In the article it suggested that Disability Awareness Training where people are asked to experience something from the Disabled person’s point of view (i.e. a sighted person being asked to put on a blindfold) was just giving the impression to people of ‘oh poor person, however do they manage’, thus diluting the Disability Equality message. As one element of our training is to ask people to put on blindfolds to experience sight guiding and sometimes to undertake some of our exercises, I thought about our message.
I guess it depends on the trainers and how things are put across. The ‘oh poor person’ certainly isn’t the message we convey. We are not for a minute suggesting that putting on a pair of simulation specs makes someone know what it is like to be blind. Obviously a key point is that people can take those specs or blindfolds off again and don’t have to manage day to day tasks. They also don’t have to experience other people’s reactions and society’s barriers.
However, we get people to experience things to appreciate how someone might manage and adapt their life, the importance of appropriate communication from all parties and also how it may (or may not be) appropriate to support someone. We emphasise this appropriate support a lot, not assuming someone can’t do something. We also use our own personal anecdotes to highlight both good and bad experiences we’ve had too. To quote a line I heard in a recent TEDTalk about Autism and Minecraft ‘everybody is considered to be equal. But we know that we can’t treat people equally to do that.’ We always emphasise that we don’t have all the solutions – ‘everyone is different’ and ‘not too assume’ are pretty constant sayings on our training but we hope that our training gives people some insight and yes, awareness.
We’re always interested to know about other people’s experiences and thoughts. Please share these by commenting…
Interested to learn more about VIDA Training? Read about our Training and Consultancy packages, specialising in Vision Impairment and Disability Awareness, Communication and Team Building or contact us for further information.