Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Blindness Simulation and the Culture of Sight

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2019), 13, (2), 123–139.

Abstract

“What’s it like?” This question has stimulated the simulation of disability through such activities as sitting in a wheelchair, putting in ear plugs, or putting on a blindfold. Disability simulation is a curious phenomenon, stimulated as it is by a curiosity that springs from the certainty that ability and disability are essentially opposite experiences. The article theorizes simulation in relation to blindness as it appears in educational awareness campaigns and fundraising initiatives, as well as in literary endeavors. Making use of cultural disability studies, the article reveals the disability imaginary at play in the culture of sight and its simulation exercises. The authors explicate the sense of knowledge production that imagines blindness as “not seeing” and sight as a “natural authority.” This follows a path where the difference between knowing and understanding is explored. Such a path neither debunks nor justifies blindness simulations as an educational power but instead aims to reveal sighted culture’s interest in simulation as a way of knowing.

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Works Cited

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Bolt, David. The Metanarrative of Blindness: A Re-Reading of Twentieth-Century Anglophone Writing. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2014. Print. Google Scholar

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French, Sally. “Simulation Exercises and Disability Awareness Training: A Critique.” Disability, Handicap and Society 7.2 (1992): 257–66. Web. 3 Oct. 2017. Google Scholar

Hick, Christian. “From the Art of Perception: From the Life World to the Medical Gaze and Back Again.” Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 2 (1999): 129–40. Print. Google Scholar

“#HowEyeSeeIt.” FFB: Foundation Fighting Blindness. Web. 23 Aug. 2016. Google Scholar

Hughes, Bill. “Wounded/Monstrous/Abject: A Critique of the Disabled Body in the Sociological Imaginary.” Disability & Society. 24.4 (2009): 399–410. Web. 8 Sept. 2017. Google Scholar

Hull, John. On Sight and Insight: A Journey into the World of Blindness. London: OneWorld, 1997. Print. Google Scholar

Kleege, Georgina. Sight Unseen. New Haven: Yale UP, 1999. Print. Google Scholar

Kudlick, Catherine. “The Blindman’s Harley: White Canes and Gender Identity in America.” Signs 30.2 (2005): 1589–606. Print. Google Scholar

Longmore, Paul K. Telethons: Spectacle, Disability, and the Business of Charity. Ed. Catherine Kudlick. New York: Oxford UP, 2016. Print. Google Scholar

Magee, Bryan and Martin Milligan. On Blindness: Letters Between Bryan Magee and Martin Milligan. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995. Print. Google Scholar

Manning, Lynn. Weights (2000). Written and Performed By Lynn Manning. Off Broadway Premiere by Theatre By The Blind, 2004. Performance. Google Scholar

Michalko, Rod. The Difference that Disability Makes. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2002a. Print. Google Scholar

Michalko, Rod. “Estranged-Familiarity.” Disability and Postmodernity: Embodying Disability Theory. Eds. Marian Corker and Tom Shakespeare. London: Continuum, 2002b. 175–84. Print. Google Scholar

Michalko, Rod. The Mystery of the Eye and the Shadow of Blindness. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1998. Print. Google Scholar

Michalko, Rod. The Two in One: Walking with Smokie, Walking with Blindness. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1999. Print. Google Scholar

Nario-Redmond, Michelle, Dobromir Gospondinov, and Angela Cobb. “Crip for a Day: The Unintended Negative Consequences of Disability Simulations.” Rehabilitation Psychology 62.3 (2017): 324–33. Web. 13 Aug. 2017. Google Scholar

Reynolds, Joel Michael. “Merleau-Ponty, World-Creating Blindness, and the Phenomenology of Non-Normate Bodies.” Chiasmi International 19 (2017): 419–36. Web. 30 Jul. 2018. Google Scholar

Riccobono, Mark. “Walking a Mile: the Possibilities and Pitfalls of Simulations.” Braille Monitor. April 2017. Web. 15 Aug. 2017. Google Scholar

Silverman, Arielle Michal. “The Perils of Playing Blind: Problems with Blindness Simulation and a Better Way to Teach about Blindness.” JBIR: The Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research 5.2 (2015). Web. 30 Jul. 2018. Google Scholar

Taussig, Michael. Memisis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses. New York: Routledge, 1993. Print. Google Scholar

Titchkosky, Tanya. “The Ends of the Body as Pedagogic Possibility.” Health, Embodiment, and Visual Culture. Special issue of The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies 34.3–4 (2012): 82–93. Print. Google Scholar

Van Rheenen, Derek. “The Blind Leading the Blind: Goalball as Engaged Scholarship.” Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability 29.1 (2016): 25–34. Web. 5 Sept. 2017. Google Scholar

Wynter, Sylvia. “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom. Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation: An Argument.” The New Centennial Review 3.3 (2003): 257–337. Print. Google Scholar

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