Professionals in the fields of education and rehabilitation psychology have long used disability simulations to try to promote understanding and improve attitudes about persons with disabilities. To simulate blindness, for instance, participants might complete tasks while wearing blindfolds or goggles. Others use earplugs to mimic deafness. Others may navigate indoor and outdoor areas in a wheelchair. The idea is to boost empathy by giving people perspective on what it is like to have a disability.
However, a recent study published by Michelle Nario-Redmond, Ph.D., professor of psychology, reveals that disability simulations often result in feelings of fear, apprehension and pity toward those with disabilities, proving Nario-Redmond’s thesis that disability simulations do more harm than good.