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Miles develops disability simulation

In association with Hindman & Associates (Chattanooga), STIGMA, a national organization regarding disabilities, and the UTC Office for Students With Disabilities, two of Dr. H. Lyn Miles’ anthropology classes at UTC will undergo a disability simulation on the UTC Campus on Tuesday and Thursday, October 3 and 5, 9:30-11 a.m. and 1:30-3 p.m. outside the UTC University Center.  Rain dates will be Tuesday and Thursday, October 10 and 12.

“The students in the disability simulation will use wheelchairs and devices that simulate mobility, visual, and hearing impairments and will work with a student partner who will serve as an observer and guide during the session,” said  Miles. “The students will be given one of 10-15 tasks to achieve on campus that might occur during a student’s routine day.”

One task will ask the student to navigate the construction on Vine Street, order food and a drink in the UC cafeteria and coffee shop, use the telephone and a rest room and return. Another task is to go to the Lupton Library and use the equipment for visual impairment to obtain and view a book. A third task will have the student move from Vine Street to Oak Street, then up the campus hill to the Chancellor’s Office.

The students will shift roles during the simulation, and the observer will become the student with a disability, and vice versa, so that each student experiences becoming temporarily disabled as well as taking careful observations of accessibility, obstacles, how the simulated-student with a disability is treated, how many people socially engage that student, what barriers might be encountered, etc.

The purpose of the simulation exercise is to:

  • Allow students an opportunity to examine disability both from the perspective of the outside observer and also personally from the perspective of someone who has a disability
  • De-stigmatize disability in general, and students with disabilities in particular, by creating some familiarity with disability experiences, as well as creating more empathy and understanding of the barriers faced by persons with disabilities, and our need to make the university experience inclusive for all our citizens
  • Illustrate to anthropology students how anthropologists conduct research, not by objectifying surveys, but by immersing ourselves and experiencing cultural behavior first hand as participants, as well as observers
  • Create a Report for Chancellor Roger Brown and Office for Students With Disabilities on accessibility on campus with suggestions for improvement, and to also increase awareness of the Office and its mission.

Participants in the disability simulation will include: 

  • Hindman & Associates, a local consulting group that advises organizations and institutions on ADA compliance and other disability related issues. Jill Hindman serves on the Board of Directors of CARTA, as well as on the Mayor’s Council on Disability.
  • Dr. Rick Rader, Director of the Habilitation Center of Orange Grove, and one of the founders of STIGMA.
  • Michelle Rigler, Manager of the UTC Office for Students With Disabilities.
  • Dennis Bandy, a local vendor for wheelchairs.
  • Dr. Lyn Miles, professor in the UTC Department of Sociology Anthropology & Geography, has worked on disability issues through a variety of professional activities. 

For more information, call Jill Hindman at (423)877-7247 or H. Lyn Miles at (423)425-4440 (office) or (770)842-7010 (cell).

September 29, 2006