People with disabilities are the largest minority group in the U.S. Even still, people with disabilities continue to face barriers that those who do not have disabilities may never consider. MyCIL’s Project ABLE is working to change that.

Since the inception of Project ABLE in 2005, over 10,000 people in the NEPA region have participated in this one-of-a-kind disability awareness experience. The ABLE in Project ABLE stands for Acceptance By Learning Experience. Moving through four stations that simulate what having a disability can be like, participants achieve just that: acceptance by learning about the challenges people with disabilities face.

A woman at the Project ABLE mobile dexterity challenges simulation station

Free Disability Awareness Training That Illustrates How Important Eliminating Barriers Is

This disability awareness program is free for school districts, non-profits, and volunteer groups and is also offered to businesses throughout the MyCIL service area. Recommended for ages 11 and above, the program is held in large spaces, such as a cafeteria or a gym. While the length of the program can vary by group size, for 50 participants it takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete.

“Having a program like this that we can take pretty much anywhere that genuinely provides the participants with a better understanding of our community (individuals with disabilities) is invaluable,” Keith Loughney, MyCIL’s outreach coordinator, said.

After completing the four disability-simulating stations, participants have an improved understanding of disabilities. This increases their sensitivity and awareness of how important eliminating barriers is.

“It was an eye-opening experience. I feel I can empathize with these individuals more,” one participant said. Another participant said, “It was more difficult than I thought.”

A woman at the low vision simulation station of Project ABLE

A Unique Kind of Disability Awareness Training

Project ABLE with its four disability-simulation stations is one-of-a-kind. The four stations include simulations for mobility loss, manual dexterity challenges, visual disabilities and learning differences.

“To have a hands-on experience that demonstrates what it’s like to have a disability is unique. We haven’t seen anything offered quite like our program anywhere else,” Loughney added.

In the mobility loss station, participants try maneuvering a wheelchair using only their non-dominant arm and leg. This simulates what mobility loss after a stroke can be like.

In the manual dexterity challenge station, participants wear movement-restricting gloves while attempting to use common everyday items such as locks. People without disabilities seldom consider these items could be barriers to those with disabilities.

The visual disabilities station simulates low vision through goggles. Participants try pouring water into a cup while wearing them.

The learning difference station challenges participants to draw a star while looking through a mirrored box, a simulation of dyslexia. One of the boxes is also connected to a headset that amplifies the background noise, making hearing and understanding verbal directions difficult, a simulation of what having ADD or ADHD can be like.

Bring This Impactful Disability Awareness Program to Your Organization

To learn more or schedule Project ABLE for your group, contact Keith Loughney at or 570-344-7211 ext. 306.


ACES$ Online