Research Article
Issue Date: November/December 2019
Published Online: November 01, 2019
Updated: April 30, 2020
Alternative Educational Approach to Wheelchair Accessibility Awareness
Author Affiliations
  • Roxanna N. Pebdani, PhD, CRC, FHEA, is Senior Lecturer, Discipline of Rehabilitation Counselling, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia;
  • Paul J. Bourgeois, PhD, CRC, is Assistant Professor and Internship Coordinator, Clinical Mental Health Program, and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Psychology Department, University of New Haven, New Haven, CT.
Article Information
Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / Research Articles
Research Article   |   November 01, 2019
Alternative Educational Approach to Wheelchair Accessibility Awareness
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, November/December 2019, Vol. 73, 7306205080.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, November/December 2019, Vol. 73, 7306205080.

Importance: Despite criticisms of disability simulation and the limited research on the topic, disability simulation activities are often used to increase understanding of the challenges faced by people with disabilities.

Objective: To compare two disability awareness activities (disability simulation and an accessibility audit).

Design: A matched pretest–posttest design with two disability awareness activities to study attitudes, affect, cognitions, and behaviors toward disability.

Setting: A small college in New England.

Participants: Eighty-eight undergraduate students.

Intervention: Participants took baseline tests online, after which they participated in a 1-hr on-campus activity. Participants were randomly assigned to either the disability simulation activity or the accessibility audit activity. Participants took posttest surveys online within 1 wk of completing the intervention.

Results: Results demonstrated that both activities lowered negative emotional responses toward people with disabilities, but participants who completed the tape measure activity had a larger decrease in scores. No significant differences were found between the scores of people who completed the different disability awareness activities.

Conclusions: Given the many criticisms of disability simulation practices and marginal differences between activities, it is time for disability simulation activities to be retired from use.

What This Article Adds: The results of this study demonstrate that disability simulation is no better than an accessibility audit in improving attitudes toward people with disabilities. Therefore, educators should cease use of these activities.