I’ve been speaking at tech conferences for the last ten years. I’m usually the only wheelchair user at the conference. Every time, I tell conference organizers how to improve access. It takes years to make minor improvements. The culture is hard to shift.
Details at The Future Fire.
We want stories that place emphasis on intersectional narratives (rejection of, undoing, and speaking against ableist, heteronormative, racist, cissexist, and classist constructions) and that are informed by an understanding of disability issues and politics at individual and institutional levels. We want to read stories from writers that think critically about how prosthetic technologies, new virtual and physical environments, and genetic modifications will impact human bodies, our communities, and planet.
DiversifYA promotes greater diversity in Young Adult literature and is doing a bunch of interviews with people with diverse backgrounds in the hope of encouraging authors to be more diverse in their writing (and readers in their reading). This particular interview spun out of meeting up with Marieke Nijkamp, one of DiversifYA's founders, and a Vice President of We Need Diverse Books, at LonCon. Ironically we didn't work out we both have HMS until a week later, at which point she grabbed me for an interview.
Asthma and THE MIRROR EMPIRE
As I write this, my hands are shaking. Not because I'm distressed. Not because I'm tired or hungry or my blood sugar is low. They're shaking because I took my inhaler. I woke up this morning, and for some reason, I couldn't take in a full breath.
Kameron Hurley's The Mirror Empire features a main character that has asthma. I'm only about 100 pages into the book, but so far, this girl is my favorite character. Because she's got a strong spirit, she's brave as fuck, and she gets shit done. But when things get real, when she has to physically exert herself--climbing stairs, fleeing bad guys, etc., she gets wheezy; she gets short of breath.
You may also want to browse recent discussions about disability in F&SF and the vocabulary of disability on my blogs.
Please drop by my Dreamwidth or LiveJournal to leave prompts for what you'd like to see me writing along the themes of urban fantasy, life with disabilities, or romance. You can watch those posts for thumbnails of poems available for sponsorship, and at least one will get posted for free as thanks for the prompts.
Where were you when they sacrificed my disabled brothers and sisters on the hillside
Where were you when they stripped my infant self of my womanhood-to-be
Where were you when they stunted me and sealed me in a box (no glass coffin for unsightly me)
Where were you when they taught me to deride those who saw the trap I was in
Where were you when they wrapped my coffin in a ship and made me one of their slaves
Where were you when they sent me into danger and made me hunt my kin
Where were you when they made my love an impossible dream
Where were you when they proclaimed my song 'a positive image of disability in SF'
Seething over Ship Who Sang being put forward as a positive representation of disability in SFSignal's Mind-Meld
To summarize: Aaaargh! *Headdesk* *Headdesk* *Headdesk*
The Ship Who Sang suggested as an example of positive depictions of disabled characters - just shoot me now....
Disability overwhelmingly presented as a struggle, people coping with disability dismissed as non-representative, not a mention of the Social Model or the disability rights struggle, a panel that's clearly overwhelmingly non-disabled. There are one or two who have a clue, but overall, just no.
I have committed (possibly harsh) commentary.
This series is urban fantasy about a wheelchair-riding private detective who handles the really weird cases, and her able-bodied but kind of accident-prone policeman boyfriend. When the fishbowl theme is something that doesn't get much attention, I try to spread the word to relevant audiences. So please tell any of your friends who are mobility-impaired or otherwise interested in this topic that it will be featured in a prompt call where they can come suggest things to be written. If you're new to P.I.E. then you can find links to all its published poems via the series page; several these were prompted by folks with limited mobility.
I invited Kathryn and Djibril over to Paper Knife, to talk about a few of the stories that they feel get portrayals of disability spectacularly wrong.
content note: discussion of eugenics; apologism in comments.
I took my little brother (who falls on the autism spectrum) to see Guardians of the Galaxy and after this scene he lit up like a Christmas tree and screamed "He's like me! He can't do metaphors!" And for the rest of the film, my brother stared at Drax in a state of rapture:
(images of Rocket and Drax)
Rocket: Metaphors are gonna go over his head.
Drax: Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I will catch them.
So for the last 6 days I have heard my brother repeatedly quote all of the Drax lines from the movie verbatim (of one his talents), begin studying vocabulary test words, and tell everyone he knows that people with autism can also be superheroes.
Now I'm not saying that Drax the Destroyer is, or was ever intended to be, austistic. All I am saying is that it warmed my heart for my brother to have an opportunity to identify himself with a character known for his strength, badassness, and honor. And that is pretty damn awesome.
So while I adored Guardians of the Galaxy as a great fun loving film with cool characters, I can do nothing but thank Marvel Studios and Dave Bautista for finally bringing a superhero to the screen that my little brother can relate to.
Now, an importnat question: Would anyone be interested in regular reports/updates on the running of AI's accessibility department? I feel like it could be a useful resource to anyone attempting to start their own such departments, or who want to help others do so/generate interest in getting one started. I also think it might help me run the department better, if I need to keep outlining my actions, and especially if I can get feedback on them. Any thoughts?
I want to highlight five stories that present atypical and non-normative experiences of embodiment in creative, engaging, and thought-provoking ways. Technology is not always wanted or accessible as a “cure all.” People with disabilities can be three-dimensional characters! Each of the five stories on my list of “good disability in SF examples” examines the complex diversity of human bodies and minds.
Has a bit of ableist language; otherwise a good article.
The easiest way for readers to see more diversity is to support titles that feature diverse casts and creative teams. Larime Taylor is a disabled comics creator born with arthrogryposis, and he writes, draws, tones, and letters his work with his mouth. His Top Cow series, A Voice In The Dark, is a chilling psychological thriller featuring a primarily female cast, and it returns in September with a new first issue in full color. Valiant’s Harbinger stars a disabled cast member in John “Torque” Torkelson, a teenage boy that is paralyzed from the waist down, but can project solid psychic holograms that turn him into a powerful superhero. Gail Simone introduced a new disabled superheroine to the DC universe with Vengeance Moth in The Movement, but low sales prompted that book’s cancellation after a year.
Bleeding Cool: How Hawkeye #19 Portrays the World of a Deaf SuperHero to a Hearing Audience, for Next Year's Eisner Awards
Has some images of the comic; does not appear to have image descriptions. If anyone has the wherewithal to put descriptions in the comments there or here, that would be cool. There are also several typos in the article, FYI.
One of those series may be of general interest here:
Special Needs in Strange Worlds
I'm not in love with the title, but the articles themselves have useful info.