As Bookshare celebrates the 20th anniversary of the ADA it has been my pleasure to review their entire collection for books related to disability. From that we selected about 30 to feature on the Bookshare Facebook page. During this research a bit of good fortune was to discover Kestrell Alicia Verlager.
To begin with, I wanted to mention how I came to propose this discussion. I graduated from MIT's Comparative Media Studies master's program a number of years ago, and my thesis was "Decloaking Disability: Images of Disability and Technology in Science Fiction Media. "
One of the reasons I love speculative fiction in general and science fiction specifically is it's many characters with non-normative bodies and modes of perception. However, when it comes to fictional blind characters, I often find myself shaking my head and wishing I could talk to writers about what they have gotten wrong in regard to the experience of being a real blind person. So, when I received an invitation to submit ideas for Readercon programming, I thought, Here is the perfect audience! And the Readercon programming committee was kind enough to encourage me.
Because my goal is to discuss specific representations of blindness and blind people, I am going to use concrete examples from specific works. I don't wish for this to be interpreted as personal attacks upon the writers who wrote these works; I specifically mention in the title of this talk that these are all goodwriters, really, the best writers. The problem, I believe, is that there is so much mythologizing and misinformation about blindness and blind people that it is difficult for even the best authors to always distinguish fact from fiction, reality from stereotype.The full presentation What Good Writers Still Get Wrong about Blind People is available here: