Looking help writing a disabled PC (Multiple types of disabilites)

I’m designing a game in which the PC doesn’t have the standard body type (aka healthy and ableist). The player will choose a “quirk” in the first chapter, from these options:
-double amputee (legs end above the knee)
-mute (but can hear)
-phobia of deep water

They live in a floating city (it’s usually in deep water although it moves around the world) where a large minority of the population is deaf-mute, including their best friend (and romantic interest) Kassandra. The main language of the city is sign language, including several dialects (eg one-handed, underwater, slang, etc). Most people are bilingual (speaking either two distinct sign languages or the primary sign language + English) or multilingual.

The reason so many people are deaf-mute is that there’s a recessive gene combined with a relatively small population pool. I’ve chosen “just” mute for the PC (damage to their vocal cords) so that I can still describe sounds.

Each quirk has the obvious disadvantages of a non-standard body type plus some advantages.

The double amputee version of the PC has a range of awesome prosthetics, including a tail that makes them a superior swimmer.

The mute version of the PC has higher rapport with Kassandra, and has a language they share only with her.

The phobic PC is an insomniac and depressed, but is so used to living with fear that they’re braver and calmer when facing real disasters. They also adapt to being on dry land a lot faster than the other characters.

Since I suffer from an anxiety disorder, I know plenty about phobias. I’d like to talk to a deaf-mute (or just mute) person, and a double amputee to make sure I’m not accidentally writing something offensive.

Obviously I’m also doing research on my own.

Does anyone know someone with specialised knowledge who doesn’t mind answering dumb questions?


Wording your post better lol IWAS ABOUT FLAGGING YOU FOR USE OF DEGRADING LANGUAGE… and all that sounds rude and trivializing the problem. I only have a terrible sight and have to use special glasses very expensive. But with them I see normal. But without i have like 30% of a normal person if you want some sight problems i could help. BUT WATCH YOUR WORDING


I agree with Mara, that title is quite the bomb around here… and not in a good way. I’d change the title to something a little less offensive like “Requesting aid from someone physically challenged to improve game immersion” or something. May not be perfect but at least its better than the current one.


I went ahead and changed that title for you @Felicity_Banks. You know @poison_mara, since you’re a Regular of the community, you can actually rename topics yourself? Like, that’s totally intentional that you can do that.


I found terrible rude change stuff in other posts. Is a cultural thing i guess I prefer ask change or flag to a mod do that. Here change something like that is seen as censorship

True, true. Like if someone named their game something, that would be rude, but if someone doesn’t tag their game with [Adult] when it obviously is or something (or like in this case where it’s with good intent, but badly worded), it’s totally possible. (Also if you don’t want to flag something, you can now just type @moderators to call all of us at once.)

Basically, yea, politeness matters, but I also like keeping the forums friendly and clean. :slight_smile:


Thank you everyone.

Is the body of the message offensive too, or just the title?

Is there any way to politely refer to specific physical challenges without being offensive?

I think someone asked something similar from a while back, I had to re-read some topics, but some of the shared opinions from other users could be helpful for you? Not sure if it would help, but better than nothing right? :sweat_smile:

Would anyone be interested in playing a disabled character?

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Physically disabled or challenged are, based on general census, the best terms to use when refering to someone with those characteristics. I think describing said disabilities as blind, mute and deaf is ok, no idea about amputee though. My instinct tells me to use it with caution but then again you’d have to ask someone in that position to know what they prefer.

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I haven’t even been able to find a word—any word—to talk about someone who is born without legs. That’s why I’m using “double amputee” (for now, and probably in the story) because there’s loads of stuff online about how to deal with a changed body after surgical amputation. My story is barely outlined, so now is the best time to make major changes. I want to be specific, at least in my research, because there are a million different kinds of limb loss. Prosthetics are incredibly unique, and having one leg versus zero legs or above/below the knee makes a huge difference to a person’s lifestyle. It’s near-future sci-fi, so I’m having a lot of fun imagining prosthetics that are even cooler than the ones that already exist.

It seems “Deaf/deaf” (depends on the person/community connection) and “mute” are okay, based on my googling.

I’ve discovered a few times that Australians (like me) are significantly more relaxed about potentially offensive terms than Americans, so even the real-life friends I have with personal knowledge of various disabilities can easily steer me wrong.

I don’t want to let my fear of getting it wrong to stop me writing an inclusive story, but I have a lot of learning to do. Which is why I’m here. And why I need first-hand knowledge.


While I agree with the basic principle of “write what you know” I also have to use my imagination to write about pirates, about the future, about the past, about people with dark skin, about people who are asexual, about non-female people, about people older than me, etc etc.

I’m aware that mutism can be caused by anxiety, but I’m squicky about the idea of psychological conditions that can be cured in such a dramatic way.

The reason NPCs will be deaf-mute and the PC can only be mute is that I want to explore different modes of communication within the community as a whole. Having a large number of people who are both deaf and mute gives me lots of room to make up radically different languages (I’ve studied a little bit of linguistics and have a friend who’s a linguistics professor). But sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch are so good for sensory immersion that I don’t want to give any of them up. So, I’ve chosen a level of PC challenge that I feel I can write well. It also means the PC doesn’t have the exact same physical challenges as Kassandra, so they need to negotiate around their differences (which is always a big part of life, especially in the Deaf/deaf community). Pretty much, I’ve chosen what I think will make the story the best it can be, within the capabilities I have (challenging, but not implausibly difficult).

I’m sure they’d have brilliant cochlear implants, but one of the notable things about the Deaf/deaf community is that it is a very close subculture in its own right, complete with its own language and so much more. A lot of deaf people choose to stay deaf, because that’s who they are. I’ll probably have a minor character or two who’ve chosen to have implants/whatever so they can hear and speak, but in this particular city most people would choose to remain as they are.


A friend who is an amputee uses “amputee.”

Being this is a sci-fi game (I assume), you may also invent new words to use.

Thanks x 2 JimD!

I’ve been wondering about the problem of how offensive terms change over time and what to do about it (although “deaf” “mute” and “amputee” all seem linguistically stable as well as self-explanatory) so making up a word might help the game not become offensive in future.

The city itself might actually not have a term for deaf-mute, but a term for “everyone else”. That’d be a nice reversal, maybe. Of course I’d have to make sure that new term wasn’t offensive…

[writer wanders off muttering to herself]

I believe that condition can be referred to as a congenital amputee/amputation in the medical world at least. I’ve also heard “amelia” used to describe to describe missing or small abnormally formed limbs that people can be born with. They’re both medical terms which I don’t think should be offensive as far as I’m aware. (I’ve never thought of amputee, deaf or mute being offensive terms, (and have never seen anyone offended by their use in general conversation.) I would have thought they were medical descriptive terms of used with normal sensitivity, but maybe there are cultural differences in different countries that load words with different meanings and intents than I’m used to.)


It would be different but you have to know about how it come to the person

I doubt you’ll find many people like that here. Maybe try asking somewhere like http://www.alldeaf.com

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I’m going to be honest, I think you’ve created a scenario where being a mute wouldn’t actually be a disability. If the character was a deaf-mute that could still be a disability because they wouldn’t be able to hear approaching danger, but in a city where the primary language is sign language, I don’t really think a mute person is going to be at much of a disadvantage.


True enough (and very thoughtful, thank you). But there are other locations where the PC needs to go. They also have to be creative if they want to make a loud “danger” type sound.

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And only now do I notice this thread… damn.

Anyway being late to the party, let me say I think it’s a good thing to try our new types of character and providing something unique and defining about a character. Be it deaf mute or the use of prosthesis, I know quite a bit on the subject’s of the first two seeing as I’ve done a fair bit of research on mute individuals and personal experience with deaf relatives.

I think I’ve said this else where before but then again I’m a strong proponent of focusing on what someone ‘can’ do as opposed to what they can’t. It’s really fun figuring out that someone who doesn’t speak can be the most expressive character in the story. (Avoids pointing to my own WIP)


Nonverbal is typically the preferred term for someone who can’t speak. Regarding writing disabled characters: the WIP “Freaks: Among the Neon Lights” does a great job writing a nonverbal character and the COG game “Redemption Season” does a great job writing several disabled characters (including multiply disabled characters).

I will say to keep in mind, depending on the genre you’re planning, being nonverbal typically is a trait of another disability (like a developmental disability–I deal with verbal shutdowns because I’m autistic and there are many autistic people who are fully nonverbal) unless someone’s vocal cords are cut (and in that case you’d need to have an explanation). Right after I typed this I went back to read and see if you’ve provided an explanation and you have so disregard this bit, haha.

I think it’d be very beneficial for you to research the social model of disability, though. It’s extremely relevant to what you’re planning to write. Because essentially, if everyone (or a large part of a population) is disabled in a certain way, it’s no longer a disability if said population’s society is specifically built to accommodate it. For example…poor vision that doesn’t result from a degenerative disorder and can be essentially “fixed” by glasses/contacts hasn’t really been considered a disability since vision correcting glasses became widely available to the general public. Therefore, disability is not something innate, but social. Many disability advocates in the Deaf/HoH and Autistic communities have covered this at length.

If everyone in your story is disabled in the same way, society will have be structured differently to accommodate that. This is because the same people who make up this society will automatically consider accessibility as it effects them/the people close to them. For example, who is more likely to think about every aspect of wheelchair accessibility when constructing a building: the person with no experience or the person who regularly uses a wheelchair or someone close to them? If a population consisted largely of wheelchair users, it’s much more likely that having a disability that a wheelchair can aid would not be as disabiling because accommodation in that case would be mostly automatic.

I’m probably rambling by now, but my point is that many disabled people, myself included, are of the opinion that society is what disables us more than anything else.