I love reading about strong, determined characters who beat the odds, no matter what it is. But the thing about writing characters with disability is to write it in a way that’s respectful. Write the character how you would any other character, only make sure you stay true to their disability. If you have a character who is blind, they would most likely take public transportation to get places or get rides from friends or a taxi service. I have vision in one eye—though its not perfect—and no vision in the other—and I tried driving my grandma’s golf cart. Ran straight into the apple tree. I never drove the golf cart ever again. I also tried driving a real car and again, will never ever drive ever! That’s not to say no one who is blind or visually impaired won’t drive. I just choose not to—for a very good reason.
Also, I rely a lot on sound. I pay attention to how someone speaks. I don’t see visual cues nor do I use facial expressions. Someone with better vision than myself may be able to see those things. Know your character!
I know this turned into a post about writing a character who is blind/visually impaired but I wanted to give examples from my experiences. Everyone has different experiences and like every writer, I drew inspiration from my own life. They say write what you know: now that’s not ALWAYS true. If it were I’d be writing stories about a small southern town. I still may do that one day haha! But I want to branch out. Writing—and reading—is a chance to experience other ideas, other cultures, step into the shoes of someone else for a while. So when you write a character—whether they have a disability or not—get inside their head. Who knows, you may learn something while in there. You will come out on the other side with a different perspective.
I know this blog post was a little different than you probably expected. But I didn’t set out to write a how to blog! Why? Well, I may have a character who has a disability but that doesn’t mean I’m an expert. I don’t have all the answers. I’m still learning and will continue to learn the craft of writing for the rest of my life. So write, research, learn, and strive to write the best book you can!
Bio: RA Odum grew up and still lives in Georgia. Her love for writing and stories started in her grandmother's attic and never stopped. Born sixteen weeks early and loss of vision in one eye, RA faces obstacles head on. From the time she was very small, she has had a host of characters in her head, screaming for their stories to be told. When she is not writing, she loves to spend time with her family, sing and read. She also enjoys learning and teaching others American Sign Language. She hopes her novels will inspire and make a difference.
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/RAOdum