Disability Simulation – An insight into disability or a patronising activity?

Disability Simulation – An insight into disability or a patronising activity?

Disability Simulation – An insight into disability or a patronising activity?

A disability simulation is any activity designed to give participants a sense of what it is like to experience the issues someone with a health conditions encounter. Common disability simulations include:

  • spending time in a wheelchair,
  • going into the community blindfolded,
  • or playing sports with one arm tied behind your back.

During our face-to-face Disability Awareness training courses, we have regularly undertaken these types of activities, we do this to provide delegates with an insight into accessibility.  For example, it allows course delegates the experience of guiding someone who may have sight loss or the issue of a high reception desk for a person who is seated in a wheelchair and the impact that has on not only the person in the wheelchair but on our client’s service delivery.

Training Delegates carrying out our Disability Perception activity
Training Delegates carrying out our Disability Perception activity

We always state that this activity is not meant to be condescending and that people are more than welcome to opt out.  It can be one thing to look at access and recognise the changes that need to be made but sometimes even the smallest exposure to the difficulties faced can generate so much more understanding, and understanding and education can be so powerful, this is surely the way to start change?

Disability Perception stand at Naidex
Disability Perception stand at Naidex

Earlier in the year Richard attended the annual Naidex exhibition and while he was there saw a van called the Autism Reality Experience, and the Virtual Dementia Tour.  You can find out more about them here https://www.training2care.com/autism-reality-experience.htm,  This is another form of disability perception but to a higher level, what would your thoughts be on this?  Sadly Richard wasn’t able to try it but intends to if they are there next year.  We’ve tried all our activities… even Richard!

We wouldn’t ask anyone to do anything we wouldn’t do ourselves, could the Autism Reality Experience make us feel different about this type of activity?

However, some feel that a snap shot into someone’s abilities may make a person more aware of another person’s experiences, but it doesn’t dig deep to the root of discrimination against people with minority identities. Instead, it’s more likely to evoke empathy or pity than true acceptance.  They also state that if it does make such a huge impact on people why hasn’t it sparked change? Both in accessibility and behaviours?

I’m inclined to state that there just aren’t enough people who have been educated.  While I completely understand that it’s never going to be as easy as sitting in a wheelchair for half an hour and then understanding all the difficulties someone encounters in their everyday life.  I use crutches because of knee and hip conditions and trying to get around a car park for 10 minutes as opposed to trying to carry a loaf of bread and pint of milk home from the shop while navigating cars and opening doors etc. is not the same.

I understand that it’s not a real life situation but in my opinion it is a tiny insight and a tiny insight is better than no insight at all.

What are your thoughts? Eye opening or patronising?

Thanks for reading

Gemma Price

Gemma Price, Operations Manager - Accessible Wales

Gemma Price
Operations Manager
Accessible Wales

Naidex 2017 – A Review

Naidex 2017 – A Review

On Wednesday 29th March I along with volunteers from Accessible News attended the Naidex Exhibition which took place in the NEC in Birmingham.  With over 150 seminars, 250 exhibitors and an abundance of live demos and interactive features it was a tremendous event.

I have attended this event a couple of times before, once when I was studying in college and later with my mother through the RCT Carers Support Project.

Accessible WC in the car park of the Birmingham NEC

Accessible WC in the car park of the Birmingham NEC

I was inspired with confidence when, after arriving at the venue and parking the car, I noticed an accessible toilet in the car park.  Now I know as an exhibition concentrated on all aspects of disability and impairments you’d expect accessibility, but how often are people with disabilities let down…. Not in this case!

Accessible WC door showing disability is not just about wheelchairs

Accessible WC door showing disability is not just about wheelchairs

The second thing, on a similar theme I noticed was the sign on the accessible WC door was the sign highlighting that not all people with disabilities use wheelchairs, something that is backed up by a recent campaign we ran on facebook.  With over 718 shares on our campaign and 1400 likes we were spurred on to change our logo to adopt the positive “thumbs up” as opposed to the traditional wheelchair.

The Magic Carpet Exhibit

The Magic Carpet Exhibit

The exhibitors that were on display were phenomenal, with stalls ranging from funky customised walking sticks and mobility aids to fluffy and cool wheelchairs for children.  The shift in stalls from the gadgets and gizmos last time I went up, to mobile phone based app products and sensory equipment (such as the exhibit above) was tremendous, it shows the way technology was advancing.

Made 2 Aid Electronic Neater Eater

Made 2 Aid Electronic Neater Eater

There were great devices such as this robotic arm that fed people who could not feed themselves.

Testing the magic knife

Testing the magic knife

As a keen foodie and founder of wheeliegoodmeals.co.uk I was interested to see the magic knife, it was a knife that needed very little pressure to cut through everything from bread, tomatoes and Swede.

Changing Places accessible changing room

Changing Places accessible changing room

I have read a lot in recent times about Changing Places the campaign for fully accessible toilets, and was impressed that there was a fully accessible changing facility in the exhibition hall.  This facility had a tracking hoist, bed and accessible WC, and enough room for easy manoeuvrability.

Sports area

Sports area

The exhibition also had a large sports arena allowing people to try wheelchair football and Goalball for people with visual impairments (amongst other activities)… I may have to have a go next time!

Wheelchair accessible motorhome from Coachbuild

Wheelchair accessible motorhome from Coachbuild

The last thing we looked at was a wheelchair accessible motorhome from Coachbuild, something that was inspirational.  With a wide range of features that could be interchanged to make it accessible to people with a range of disabilities it was a sight to behold.

I would recommend the exhibition to anyone, we’ve learned a lot through our visit.  While there is a huge amount of bespoke technology created to help people with disabilities, there are a vast amount of organisations customising everyday products to make them accessible.

To view our photo album click here.  Thanks for reading, come back soon to find out more about what we’re up to.

 

 

Richard Jones

Principal Consultant.

Naidex Here We Come

Naidex Here We Come
Principal Consultant Richard Jones getting ready for Naidex 2017

Principal Consultant Richard Jones getting ready for Naidex 2017

Today I will be attending the Naidex exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham. The NEC was opened in 1976 by the Queen and since then has grown to become the number one venue of choice for organisers,  exhibitors and visitors with 20 exhibition halls.

Keep your eyes peeled for updates throughout the day on our social media pages. Find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Thanks for reading

Richard Jones

Principal Consultant