Blind ‘Simulation’ Is a Bad Idea—and here’s why

You hear about ‘awareness’ or fund-raising events that involve blind simulation. Things like ‘Blind walks’ where sighted people are blindfolded and given a cane with which they stumble around with for 10 or so minutes or ‘dinners in the dark’ where people eat a meal blindfolded, are examples of blind simulations.  While these exercises have some shock and awe results….”Oh my gosh! How difficult and frightening it is to be blind!”…they are, in my opinion, the greatest disservice to the blind community.  Oddly enough, it is most often groups or organizations of the blind who organize them.  Why is blind simulation a bad idea?  The people with the blindfold have zero experience and training.  They have not been through proper Orientation and Mobility instruction. They do not have years of tempered and consistent expereince to develop skills. Of course it’s scarey! and totally unrealistic! Even people who lose their vision in an instant (accident victims, for example), are provide with coaching and training over time. They learn to use their remaining senses more effectively. Bit by bit, their confidence increases and they can allow themselves to be exposed to more challenging situations, like walking on a busy sidewalk. It is detrimental to have a bunch of sighted people thinking that my life is a frightening and horrible existence! That is what happens as a result of these ‘blind simulated events’. It focuses on the difficulty of life as a blind person,  and negatively impacts the public perception about blindness and people who are blind. I have a life! A good one at that! I don’t want sighted people erroneously believing that my life is miserable just because I happen to be blind. 

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7 responses to “Blind ‘Simulation’ Is a Bad Idea—and here’s why

  1. Bernie Vinther

    I also think that such exposure to blindness is a bad idea. At least a few tips about how we do things before putting on the blind folds is a must. No, my life is not miserable because I went blind. In fact, I like most of the chalenges that blindness gives me. The main thing I don’t like about blindness are the people who never adjust to blindness, and the sighted ones who try to put limits on what I know I can do or want to learn how to do.

  2. Go Bernie!

  3. I agree. I don’t think these blind simulations are helpful at all in having people learn how independent people who are blind can be.
    No one who goes blind suddenly goes oout in the word or even to a restuarant before getting some blindness skills training

  4. I disagree. Although I’ve never really participated in this, I think an amazing thing happens when you cut out one of the major senses. I typed “Blindness simulation” into google, and found this site because I kind of just closed my eyes in my appartment, while music was playing and tried walking around. I know my apartment really well. I lived here for years. But I felt really aware and really alert, in an awesome way. I tried making my way around the apartment with my eyes closed. Even though I know all the corners, turns, and how distances, I found myself bumping into things – and at the same time discovering this place and myself on a new level. I would recommend trying to walk around your home with eyes closed. As weird as it sounds, its an awesome experience.

  5. While walking around your own flat with your eyes closed may give you some kind of innocent thrill, organized simulations in public spaces or at events translate into media hype and public misconception about blindness being perpetuated.

  6. I can understand why blind people think it’s a stupid idea, although I wonder if there’s training available for people at risk of blindness, eg diabetics, or for partners, relatives and friends.

  7. being visually impaired myself (had a month long scare here where I thought I was going to be permanently total due to an eye infection), I can understand both points of view clearly. one the one hand: the sighted (unable to understand us, fearful and sometimes jealous) who either can’t or won’t allow us to be what we are. On the other hand: the blind (of which I am technically one): trying to be as independent as possible in a world that doesn’t really want to see us or interact with us (as callous as that sounds, its more often true than not).

    I can understand a reason for the “trust walk” but yeah, its an exercise in futility. a cane, a blindfold and “here ya go, now find your way” just doesn’t cut it.

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