International Day of People with Disabilities / Writing Disabled Characters

Hey, everyone. As some of you may know from Episode’s shelf this week, today is International Day of People with Disabilities :partying_face: In order to spread some awareness about this day, I figured I’d make this post. (Hopefully I’m posting in the right section, if not, please let me know.)

What is a disability?
According to the ADA’s website, “ The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability. The ADA also makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person based on that person’s association with a person with a disability.”

So, what is the purpose of this day?
International Day of People with Disabilities was first proclaimed in 1992 with the goal of promoting the well-being and equal rights of people with disabilities in all areas of life. Its aim is also to spread awareness of the challenges persons with disabilities face in social, economic, political, cultural, and educational life.

What does this day mean for disabled people?
Speaking from personal experience, this day is an important one for me to express my opinions, struggles, and hope as a person with a disability. It gives me a way to share some information about the things I go through and to connect with other people in similar situations. For a community that is so often ignored in discussions about diversity, this day provides an important outlet for expressing our perspectives and promoting visibility and acceptance.

What are some areas of life where people with disabilities are still working to achieve equality?
People with disabilities face challenges in terms of employment, pay, education, health care, housing, and many other aspects of life. Society was, ultimately, built with the able-bodied in mind. Only through the implementation of a more universal design will people with disabilities be able to access more of the same resources as able-bodied people.

If I don’t have a disability, why should this day matter to me?
This day should matter to both disabled and non-disabled people alike. If you do not have a disability, this day is a little bit of a call to action. If you notice someone with a disability struggling, ask them if they need help (if they decline, however, please accept their wishes). If you notice that a business you work in or an establishment you visit is inaccessible in any way, let someone know. If you notice someone with a disability eating alone at lunch in the cafeteria, don’t be afraid to go say “hello” to them. Just simple little gestures like these go a long way.

If I want to write a character with a disability, what should I do?
If you wish to write a character with a disability in your Episode story, I would strongly recommend reaching out to members of the community who have disabilities first. They can always tell you best what is considered offensive or incorrect. If you do need someone to reach out to, I am always here to answer questions.

I would also recommend avoiding these common but offensive themes:

  1. Having the disabled character be considered an inspiration simply for going about their daily life.
  2. Having the disabled character’s sole purpose in the story be to watch them get cured. Most people with disabilities do not feel that they need to be “cured” of anything.
  3. Having the disabled character wishing to die because they can’t fathom life with a disability. This storyline is extremely damaging for people with disabilities to watch because it ultimately conveys the point that our lives do not have value.
  4. Having the disabled character have no personality outside of being disabled. This is inaccurate as we have likes, dislikes, attitudes, and opinions just like anyone else. Minimizing us to just our disabled identity makes for very one dimensional and fake characters.
  5. Having the disabled character only exist for the betterment of other characters. For instance, do not have any of your characters say, “I appreciate my life more looking at what their (disabled character) life is like.”
  6. Do not have your characters infantilize your disabled character. This includes any times where they might treat the disabled character as if they do not understand what is happening (like they’re a child) instead of addressing them as they would any other person.
  7. If you are using overlays to represent certain mobility aids in your stories, please do some research on how exactly these should look. For instance, some types of wheelchairs are solely meant for medical usage in hospitals and such while others are meant for daily living in a wheelchair.
  8. Addition from @janebelrose - “Another thing I’d add is don’t be afraid to use the term “disabled” or “disability.” Some people, I feel, assume it’s offensive and tend to use “differently abled” or “all-abled” or any similar term, which is awful because that terminology it detracts from the disability! Basically, don’t get cute with the names. Treat it how it is. Treat us how it is.”
  9. Please do not use the r-word in your stories. This is an extremely offensive term.
  10. If someone with a disability says something you wrote or did is offensive, please listen to them. They are the ones who define their identity and claiming that you know everything on the topic is harmful and demeaning.

Anyways, I think that’s about it for now. I don’t want to make this thread so long that no one stops to read it :joy:

I hope that this thread has helped you all learn about what International Day of Persons with Disabilities means. If anyone has anything to add in the comments, please do! I might even add more to this later as I think of it :sweat_smile: Also, if you want to ask questions about representing disabilities in your stories, feel free to do that as well. Last, if you have a disability and you want to find support from others with disabilities going through similar experiences (in real life or on Episode) please feel free to reach out in the comments. I want this thread to provide a comfortable place for open discussion about this topic :blush::wheelchair::love_you_gesture:t2:

Here are some links you might want to look at:

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This thread is so informative and amazing! You’ve put so much effort and info :heart_eyes::heart_eyes:

bookmarking for the future

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Thank you! I’m glad you found it helpful!

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Excellent post! I wish more people knew how to portray disabled characters. Another thing I’d add is don’t be afraid to use the term “disabled” or “disability.” Some people, I feel, assume it’s offensive and tend to use “differently abled” or “all-abled” or any similar term, which is awful because that terminology it detracts from the disability! Basically, don’t get cute with the names. Treat it how it is. Treat us how it is.

Also, THANK YOU for the note about the wheelchairs. A popular story featured two characters who were full-time wheelchair users, but the overlays were of transport chairs >.<

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Finally a thread that is good for those to learn more about disabilities. I have 4 disorders and trauma and my while life has been ruined because of them. I’ve probably taken hundreds of different type of medications some that we’ve used in dose or lowered in dosage. I hate when people say I’m depressed or they have anxiety when they dont have a clinically diagnosed disorder.

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Great addition ^^

That really stinks that the story carried on that way because that’s so inaccurate. No one who is a full-time wheelchair user would even be able to use a transport chair all the time. I feel like those being used in a story make it look like people in wheelchairs are super dependent all the time and that sucks :roll_eyes:

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I’m so sorry to hear about everything you’ve gone through. I’m here if you ever need someone to talk to about it.

And, yes, it’s terrible the way people simply throw those terms around like they mean nothing :roll_eyes:

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I have learned Disability to I bent born with it sometime people don’t understand me with my English I am suggle some time on code .and I want write story to I have not post no story at all . some time it hard for me when you all along . when I need help .I feel so all ashamed to .can’t not help it I have learned Disability .need help.

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Don’t feel ashamed for needing help! We all do sometimes in different aspects of life.

If you ever have questions about directing, just let me know.

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But some time ask for help some people don’t want help me out at all .can please help me.i don’t have no story post at all .do need you help got story on write portal not done

happy B-day This thread is so helpful, book marking

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Hi, as I said before, I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about directing or send you any resources that may help you. However, that does not mean I will be able to code your story for you as I am very busy with uni, story reviews, and writing my own story right now. I recommend looking for a writing partner on one of the writing partner threads on here instead.

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I try to find write parter it does not work for me it ok .this not about code just feel like I suggest some time .i know I have learned to disability some people don’t answer my post any more they don’t understand me some time when I am posting some up .when I try to write anything they understand me at all when I am post and spent English.need help with post good things.this not code ok just need help with writing.

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Oh, okay, I thought you needed help with coding based off your previous replies and DMs.

Just let me know what you need help with in your posts and I’ll see what I can do :blush:

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Thank you

bump! :upside_down_face:

Bump

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Wait, why???

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Are you just looking for other things?

bump!