Studies have indicated that constructive approaches towards people with disability appear to be a role of familiarity and optimistic previous encounters. These studies aim at strengthening the requirement for highlighting and applying universal design perceptions in professional learning and policymaking. To attain the intentions of universal design, learning has to aim at boosting learners’ comprehension of the broad range of human requirements thereby widening their scale of deliberation in problem solving. In this assignment, I will be pretending to be physically disabled and unable to walk. On this note, I will go to Meijer’s store in Grand Rapids during rush hour when the store is full of customers, for about three hours on a wheelchair, on 15th may 2014. I intend to take a t-shirt and pant then head to the fitting room and observe how the salesperson and other people in the store will react. Moreover, I will try and buy items from high shelves and see the reaction of other people before heading to the restaurant inside Meijer to purchase food. I will then compare this experience to my regular day experiences as an ordinary able-bodied and walking person when I walk into Meijer’s store without the use of a wheelchair. Meijer represents a local American hypermarket chain headquartered in Michigan that was listed in position thirteen on Forbes’ list of 2011.
When I initially heard of the wheelchair simulation, I was extremely fascinated and thrilled about it because I believed it sounded comical, in a strange manner. During the undertaking of the simulation, I discovered how enlightening the experience was. Nonetheless, since I had for a long time heard different stories about the illustrious wheelchair simulation; I was in some way anxious. Students that have never been rejected, or that have not encountered the rejection of other people, by the nature of the physical surroundings cannot completely recognize the need for simulation to be more largely based. The experience to Meijer on a wheelchair broke open my insight to this requirement, and made me tackle, through my encounter, others’ approaches regarding the disabled people. The rationale behind the wheelchair simulation was to have the experience of the physical surroundings from the standpoint of the disabled people, mull over the encounter, and utilize it to comprehend the hardships of people with disability. A limitation that I encountered while carrying out the simulation is that the experiment was thrown instantly into a strange condition, which took some trial and error employing a wheelchair prior to my starting to adjust to its function.
When starting my journey to the Meijer I got a feeling that I should postpone the experiment and train to use a wheelchair prior to embarking on the simulation. No sooner had I sat on the wheelchair than I realized that the difficulties did not just dwell in making it as a disabled person alone, but also in the ability to ride a wheelchair. It was not as undemanding as it appeared. Instructing my hands to carry out what is usually executed by my legs proved to be very hard and clumsy. I did not just begin rolling on the wheelchair as I had anticipated. Rather, I checked my new style for some time to avoid running into a wall or into other people. Turning necessitated much coordination between my hands and my head. Most of the time, I got the feeling of holding imaginable handlebars. Moreover, the temporary change from a completely able person to one in need of other people’s help of others was extremely extraordinary. Throughout the experiment, I felt as striking as striking as a red pepper inside a bowl of green ones. Being seated while every person around was standing put me at a lesser physical rank and I felt no longer equal. Other people had to look down to me and this was quite an unusual sentiment.
Though it was in a rush hour and everyone in the store was busy, I pretended to be busier than all of them and kept disturbing them to help me get the items I could not reach from the high shelves. I went to buy food from the restaurant and feigned struggling to reach the counter that was too high for me to reach while on the wheelchair. I almost stood from the wheelchair unintentionally during the struggle to reach the counter. I intentionally bumped into a staircase to the fitting room while carrying a pant and t-shirt and feigned falling by the door of the fitting room. Most of the time, in the course of the experiment, I had ended up stifling a giggle out of the reactions of other people towards me. “Little do they know I am just a pretender,” I kept telling myself. When the three hours of this simulation were over, I felt that I would have liked some more time. I had come to like the experiment since to me it had turned out to be fun. During my other days in Meijer’s store when not in a wheelchair, I had felt just like every other person and I was not being stared at or ignored as in the case of when I was in a wheelchair.
Reactions of Other People
Immediately after sitting on the wheelchair, I felt likely a completely different person. It was like being totally alienated from the rest of the students. On my way to Meijer’s store and in the store, people walked past me and feigned to act as though I never existed. The people that were courageous enough to gaze, looked away as soon as we held eye contact. Throughout the exercise, I noticed how some people stared at me, especially when trying to reach items on the high shelves. This could be because there are only a few people in wheelchairs on the streets and in the store. People are not adapted to seeing others with disability and this caused me to ponder about a number of the social insinuations that are placed on people with disability.
When I was trying to reach items on high shelves, some people just stared at me and when I sought their assistance, they just ignored and left. This made me feel like shedding tears for the feeling that if it were a truly disabled person, he/she would have gone through exactly that. When I took a t-shirt and pant and headed to the fitting room, the salesperson and the other people in the store had all eyes on me and when I “fell” by the door of the fitting room, that is when they all ran to help pick me up. The sales person then assisted me fit the t-shirt and pant. At the restaurant inside Meijer, the counter was too high for me and were it not for the sales person who came to a suitable position to attend to me, I would have given up. The other customers were ignoring me and hurriedly buying and leaving, which left me helpless. It is only a man in his 50s who was approaching to help me before the salesperson noticed me and rushed to help.
Learners get out of the simulation undertaking not just with a lifetime experience but also with strongly grounded insight of the desire to help those going through the experienced challenging situation. Following the wheelchair encounter, I believe that I have a greater comprehension of what exceptional deliberations are to be carried out when strategizing an environment that is to be suitable for all. Wheelchair users ought to have the opportunity to be capable of moving around as easily as any other individual that can walk. I have a conviction that persons that use wheelchairs are handicapped not by their wheelchairs, but by the experiences of other people who ignore them and fail to take their requirement for help into deliberation. Experiencing the numerous challenges that people with disability go through, I comprehend the requirement for making spaces, designated places, and objects that will make sure that wheelchair users are cared for. It highly requires our sensitivity to realize the things that require being bettered so that people with disability, all minorities, and everyone else in the society can live uniformly in the man-made surroundings.
How Life Might be affected if Otherness Were a Constant
After executing this exercise, I am now aware that a lot requires to be done to better the surroundings and interrelations with others. I cannot envisage encountering the aggravation and helplessness I felt during the simulation each day of my life. Though one could get control over a wheelchair after some time, people with disability should be assisted to manage their surroundings through available and adaptable policies. If I were truly in a wheelchair, I think the problem I could face at the place of work is the lack of promotion and possibly being sacked on grounds that a completely able person would be more productive than one with a disability. I would handle this challenge via seeking organizations that defend the rights of the disabled to aid me out of the discrimination.
The wheelchair simulation made me gain great esteem for people with disability and I have a feeling that every person should carry out such a simulation irrespective of which place they choose to visit. A saying exists that one cannot judge another until they have strolled a kilometer in their shoes. On this note, I feel the saying should be revised to state that one cannot get a true picture of what others are going through until you spend three hours in their wheelchair. Even if I got the experience in a wheelchair for a short period, I am sure I got adequate exposure of how hard undemanding undertakings can become challenging when one is confined to a wheelchair. This simulation enabled me to discover that the mobility-impaired people who use wheelchairs warrant great acknowledgment, aid, and deference. Residing in a setting that in one way or another singles out a given person is not an easy task for him or her. The present environment usually takes for granted the disability of a wheelchair user. The truth is that the wheelchair users find it very difficult to do simple things that a completely able individual undertakes each minute devoid of giving it a second contemplation.
The esteem that I and other learners gain for disabled persons that use wheelchairs are the commencement of recognition of those individuals’ capacities, and seeing past their disabilities. This approach was strengthened when I met and initiated dialogue with a youthful professional lady, who happened to use a wheelchair, at Meijer’s store. This lady shared with me about how she has adapted both her home and work settings to put up her requirements.
Most significantly, from the wheelchair simulation, I realized that minimum values are availed for wheelchair users. This experience coerced my consciousness of the significance of strategizing for convenience, provision of alternatives, and for adaptability of surfaces. Currently, I have a feeling that I can care for wheelchair users in a better manner since I have experienced the encounter of a number of challenges that they face. Moreover, I have a clear understanding of the extents it takes to move a wheelchair and how to employ them in a number of circumstances. Confidently, through carrying out simulations as this, and attempting to comprehend the insinuation behind being mobility impaired. On this note, I have no doubt everyone that undertakes a simulation as the wheelchair one will have the capability to offer well-designed and aesthetically satisfying interiors for people with disability and ambulant people. To sum it up, I am thankful that I engaged in this simulation, as I am confident that it offers great awareness to strategize implications for mobility-impaired persons.