Simulation is increasingly important as a tool in teaching. This project started when I was asked to help with developing a disability awareness exercise to use as part of marketing OT. I know that there are critiques of this kind of simulation exercise in the disability literature. At the same time I recognised that simulation is increasingly important as part of teaching health professionals. This clash between the cultures of disability and rehabilitation is not often articulated. It seemed like an excellent opportunity to tease out some concepts, as well as potentially developing a useful teaching exercise. In this way the project about vision simulation is a bridge between my work on ethics, and my work on vision rehabilitation
I obtained a small grant ($7,000) from the Retina group. Fortunately, we were able to embed the project into a teaching exercise because, serendipitously, the first year OTs wanted to run a vision simulation exercise as part of their Occupation course. I ensured that the students integrated people with vision impairment into their simulation. Then I organised to research the project using mixed methods. We also interviewed people with vision impairment to ensure the integration of their perspective.
As a result of this project I have run the simulation exercise in a number of different awareness raising and teaching events. I have researched and designed a variety of interactive simulation exercises doing everyday activities, which sighted people take for granted. These include wearing simulation goggles or using the VisSim app by the Braille Foundation.
I like to draw on community connections to develop authentic learning experiences that ensure students have the knowledge, skills and appropriate attitudes to work with people with disability. Student awareness is deepened through a scaffolding process that enables them to move from novice through to expert. These exercises and technologies provide an entry into learning about visual impairment at multiple levels. For example, my fieldwork students designed a vision simulation exercise to use with secondary school students as part of learning about the stages of grief; other fieldwork students took a vision simulation exercise to a daycare center to teach older people about the effects of visual impairment.
World Sight Day simulation activities: