This letter is regard to the article that appeared in Wednesday's Collegian entitled "Greeks raise awareness by dining with disabilities." While I applaud the efforts to raise awareness about disability issues, the method of using disability simulations has a tendency to be misleading and can be offensive to people with disabilities.
Wearing a blindfold while eating or attending class in a wheelchair does not represent what it is like to live with a disability. At best, it demonstrates what it is like to have a handicap rather than a disability. For example, a blind person eating a meal has developed successful strategies over time, whereas during a disability simulation, a sighted person is minus those strategies and therefore may struggle.
As a result, disability simulation too often helps to construct the fallacy that life with a disability should be overcome and is something to be pitied, which reinforces negative stereotypes. As a consequence, this activity can deny people with disabilities the inalienable right to live their lives with dignity and self-respect. For the non-disabled person, after the simulation props are gone, he or she walks away with a misguided sense of superiority disguised as gratitude for not having a disability.
As a person without a disability, I will never be able to presume that I know what it is like to have a disability. However, in my capacity as an ally, I felt I needed to respond with a different perspective.
Karin Skogerboe Bright
Resources for Disabled Students