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Writing a blind character (hopefully this isn't offensive?):
Insert witty title hereI was considering playing (at a text roleplay game) a Dangan Ronpa OC who happens to be a blind koto player: his sister plays the koto, he became interested, turned out to be good at it, became somewhat well known and then lost his sight at an accident. But I'm worried about falling into trappings (such as Inspirationally Disadvantaged) and Unfortunate Implications. He does have a personality and conflicts that have nothing to do with his disability, but him being in the Dangan Ronpa setting and being blind is a clear disadvantage. ...However, if Monobear decides one of the motifs is cutting the power off...
edited 14th Feb '13 9:34:02 PM by risingdreamer
Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it. ~Russel Baker
In Justice We Trust!My attitude to this one is the same to most subjective tropes & unfortunate implications: Don't worry about it. Just write it first then see what the response to it is. If it comes up too many times, just ask them why do they think so and keep digging in until you get to the root to find out if it's something that should be of concern for you or not. Once you have answer, can figure out how to address it. If you want to change or not. Just make sure that you're personally satisfied with it above all else. Plus, no matter what, someone will come to those conclusions anyway. It's impossible to please everybody or someone to not connects dots which weren't ever even there. So just dive in and be confident in what you're doing as a creator. Anybody can be a critic and honestly, the more people think about something, the more likely they will find something they consider a flaw or to complain about. Just need to use your intuition to discern what's helpful and what's unimportant.
edited 15th Feb '13 11:39:03 AM by Prime_of_Perfection
My opinion/advice is going to be somewhat contrary to what you'll likely hear so take it with a pinch of salt: When hearing criticism about characters with disabilities, while most complaints are about Unfortunate Implications or about it feeling overly Inspirationally Disadvantaged, the root of the issue is really that they felt the disabled characters didn't feel "real". While this is hardly a contentious statement to make, this next part is: As counter-intuitive as this sounds, one way to solve the issue is to make the disabled character's view inconsistent with respect to his disability. Sure, you can - probably even should - have an overarching arc that you build towards to. However, just because someone has come to terms with their disabilities, that doesn't mean s/he will never ever get frustrated with it ever again; especially after a particularly challenging day or when faced with a new issue that re-raises the issue. Likewise, you should try to be multifaceted about it; showing how his blindness changed the way he sees the world and how he learned to adapt. Bring up the problems his blindness has caused and the new doors it has opened. Also, don't have him treat the blindness like some holy grail or place him on some sort of pedestal for having to overcome it. Don't have him (and potentially others) be above making jokes at the expense of his blindness (especially if he's come to terms with it) and have others call out on him when he uses his blindness as an excuse.
edited 15th Feb '13 3:53:39 PM by peasant
I am not Roranicus Pondicus.As someone who is physically disabled due to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, I am very inclined to agree with peasant. I'm not blind, but the same general principles should apply to accurately writing anyone with a physical disability. Some days, it doesn't bother me at all. Some days, it really does.
However, just because someone has come to terms with their disabilities, that doesn't mean s/he will never ever get frustrated with it ever again; especially after a particularly challenging day or when faced with a new issue that re-raises the issue. Likewise, you should try to be multifaceted about it; showing how his blindness changed the way he sees the world and how he learned to adapt. Bring up the problems his blindness has caused and the new doors it has opened. Also, don't have him treat the blindness like some holy grail or place him on some sort of pedestal for having to overcome it. Don't have him (and potentially others) be above making jokes at the expense of his blindness (especially if he's come to terms with it) and have others call out on him when he uses his blindness as an excuse.You're absolutely right. Also, don't make the blindness his single outstanding feature. Don't make him "the blind one" but instead something like "the [insert personality traits] one who happens to be blind." Don't treat it as nothing, but don't make it everything. Don't get tunnel vision, but don't miss the important details either. Thanks for an excellent post, peasant. :)
Shut up, Reset! "What are we gonna do today, Bocaj?"
Street Writing ManNote: this post may or may not help you, I just saw the title and realized I had some experience with it. So, I was once tapped to run a one-on-one SMS-based RP for a person who wanted to play a blind character (not "blind from birth" but "blinded by circumstance"). Now, I'm a veteran GM...I'd been storytelling for a decade and a half at this point. But I'd never tried to run a game for someone who was playing a character that was blind. This presents problems for the GM. I mean come on; those of you who have done any roleplaying games know how often a GM prefaces a statement with "you see (X)". So, I decided to try being blind for an afternoon. To wit, I taped a sleep mask to my face and tried to do basic tasks. Now, this shit was not fun. Stuff the sighted take for granted - even basic shit like unzipping your fly to take a leak, or finding a chair to sit down in - became quite challenging. But here's what I noticed... -The first thing you do when your sight is taken from you is try to touch stuff. For one, you want to know where it is...but also, reaching out and touching stuff is something that you can control. But anyway, tactile sensitivity got very acute. -Air currents are really important when you cannot see. Again, I'm not sure why this is important but when someone opens a door to the outside and you can't see them do it, the sudden movement of air...you really notice it. -Everything takes a hell of a lot longer when you are blind. As an example, I tried to make a sandwich...that is really hard when you cannot see. I had to touch and smell everything before I decided to use it...to say nothing of having to actually find the damn refrigerator before I could even begin the process of feeding myself. Again though, tactile sensitivity was the second sense to try and take over. Which leads me to my next insight... -Sounds are scary. When something makes a noise and you cannot identify where it is coming from it bothers the living fuck out of you. When you cannot see you start listening like you've never listened before...and every noise is suddenly really fucking important, because you don't actually know where it is coming from. There's this weird thing that happens where you try and "localize" (not sure that's the best word) where the noise you just heard is coming from. After a few hours I was able to discern noises that were close versus noises that were far away. But still, sudden loud noises were not my friends. Anyhow, these are a few of the things I noticed trying to get by without eyesight for an afternoon. If you are interested in writing a blind character I encourage you to try a similar experiment.
Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life. ~Sophia Loren~
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