Disabilities in fiction

People_with_Disabilities.jpgI was thinking how few people with disabilities are featured on regular television shows and movies. And rarely do we see people with disabilities in fiction, unless they are the main character.

There are a number of children’s book, teen books, and mainstream novels wherein a physical disability is the main feature and/ part of the main character and therefore the thrust of the storyline, but I think we need to incorporate people with disabilities into our secondary and background characters.

In one show I watch, they had to replace a minor character, a secretary who might be seen once or twice a week, and be required to answer a mundane question like, “Where’s the boss?” This show (which shall remain nameless) receives kudos for being among the first (many years ago) to feature minority characters, an interracial affair, gay characters, and, now, even a gay relationships; yet, they don’t have any characters with disabilities.

It’s really up to the writers – us – to push this envelop. We don’t need to know the whole back story if our main character walks into an office to say, “Where’s the boss?” and receives the same sprite answer, “if only someone would tell me!” from someone in a wheelchair.



5 thoughts on “Disabilities in fiction

  1. Thank you, Noreen for this insightful post! People with disabilities live, work and play all around us every day, and they rarely pop up in TV or movies in truly credible ways. I just watched Sunshine Cleaning again a few nights ago and was reminded how nicely the one-armed salesman was handled…”it must be hard to build models with only one arm,: a youngster with OCD comments. “It is,” the man says simply. As a blind poet, I can’t help inserting my own specialized perceptions into what I write, and hope they lend extra layers to the visual imagery my memory enables me to utilize. We all gain when each of us is permitted to addour individual strokes to Life’s canvas.


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