Hi Laura,

I have done these kinds of simulations with students, faculty and administrators.

I begin the workshop by discussing with everyone how to interact and communicate with people with disabilities. I pass around handouts that explain the dos and don'ts of communicating with people with various types of disabilities and I explain my interest in the topic.

I begin the simulation by pairing participants up. I then provide simulations by giving participants tasks to complete while in a wheelchair, while blindfolded, and while having ear plugs inserted. The tasks usually involve going somewhere else (with their partner) and finding things or doing something. I encourage those who are blindfolded etc. to be as independent as possible and I stress to the partners that they are responsible for the other person's safety.  Once one person completes the task, they switch roles and do a new task. These tasks and the materials they need are provided in envelopes. I often give participants one task that they can not do. For example, I ask them to make a telephone call when the phone is too high for someone in a wheelchair to reach.

After the simulation we discuss everyone's experiences and talk about the communication between the pairs. These sessions have been well received. I believe that the participants have become much more aware of the challenges that people with disabilities face and they start to feel more comfortable around people who have disabilities. The best outcomes have been brought about when I have invited people with disabilities to speak to the participants after the simulation and discussion. It is amazing how quickly people who do not yet have a disability are able to see the person rather than the disability after interacting with them for a short period of time.  Overcoming the fear of doing something wrong and learning a few basic procedures can make a big difference in fostering interactions between people with difference abilities.

I generally find that many of the participants have friends or relatives who have some type of disability. If they are willing to talk about their experiences with their relatives and if you create a comfortable atmosphere, people will be receptive to trying the simulation and sharing their fears and concerns with others. For example, people often ask whether or not you should hold open the door for someone in a wheelchair. They are not quite sure what to do and do not want to do something wrong.

When you do tutor training, you can address the issue of how tutoring appointments and sessions need to be adapted, and you may wish to role play with one person being the tutor and the other being the person with the disability.  You will also want to talk about adaptive technologies. But I think that the most important thing to address is the tutor's fear of the person or saying/doing something wrong.

One benefit to doing these across campus is that people often become sensitive to things like having boxes or other barriers in the hallway. Your may be able to partner with your Office of Disability Services in this training session. I used to get my wheelchairs from Health Services.

Hope this helps.

Mark May
Dean, Retention and Student Success
Clayton State University
678 466-4111

-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Laura Symons
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 10:52 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Disabilities Simulation

Hello Folks,

In a couple of weeks, I am going to be doing a presentation on tutoring
college students with disabilities.  Part of that will be examples of
ways to train tutors. I remember years ago having simulations that gave
the experience of a disability so that the tutor would better understand
what the student experiences.  Can you help me with exercises or sources
for exercises for this?



Laura Symons
Coordinator of the Learning Center
Piedmont Virginia Community College
501 College Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22902-7589
434.961.5310 (o)
434.961.8232 (f)

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