Simulated sightlessness can have negative effects on people’s perceptions of visually impaired
Using simulation to walk in the shoes of a person who is blind — such as wearing a blindfold while performing everyday tasks — has negative effects on people’s perceptions of the visually impaired, according to a University of Colorado Boulder study.
“When people think about what it would be like to be blind, they take from their own brief and relatively superficial experience and imagine it would be really, really terrible and that they wouldn’t be able to function well,” said Arielle Silverman, who is lead author of the paper and blind. She conducted the research as part of her doctoral dissertation in CU-Boulder’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and now is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle.
In one part of the study, after simulating blindness by having their eyes covered, participants believed people who are blind are less capable of work and independent living than did participants who simulated other impairments like amputation, or had no impairment.
In another part of the study, participants who were blindfolded said they would be less capable if they personally became blind and slower to adjust to their new world compared with study participants who weren’t blindfolded.
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