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

Thank you for some really thoughtful analysis that I’ll have to think about more deeply (both for my personal life and for the story).

I’ve been talking to other people about this story too, specifically the problem that if the PC picks from a list of three disabilities, it is saying that the three are equivalent.

Ultimately I’ll choose one to focus on for the PC (probably not the mental side, because that would be too costly for my own mental health if I focused on it too much - I’ve written a shorter story about chronic illness/depression before, and it’s very poorly edited because I couldn’t handle focusing on that mental state for long).

After fifteen years, I’m still learning about what I can and can’t do.

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It’s a lot of work to write things beyond one’s own experience, particularly when those topics exist in reality. You’ve already taken the first step in asking for feedback. The best advice I can give you is to seek feedback as much as you can on what you’ve written, especially from disabled people. Happy writing!:smile:

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I have a rather mild case of Cerebral Palsy. My CP (Cerebral Palsy) affects my ankles and my wrists. I have spastic CP and as a result my ankles will give out at the worst possible moment ( I’m holding something fragile, I’m going up the stairs etc). I was wondering if you could use something like what I have in your story. If you need to ask me any more questions, feel free to PM me and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability.


Doesn’t “nonverbal” more accurately describe people who are physically capable of speaking, but don’t for whatever reason (like psychological/selective mutism)? I have heard it used as a euphemism, but “mute” (unlike “dumb”) is not widely seen as offensive (unless you know something I don’t)?

Deaf people can be calling non-hearing or hearing impaired. But again, “deaf” is a term that many disabled people have embraced as non-offensive. Hearing impaired also has the disadvantage that it may be confused with “hard of hearing”.

@Felicity_Banks: Who do you want to avoid offending? It’s a bit like the difference between calling a character African American, or describing them as a black person - in common usage, being black is an identifier that is not considered derogatory, although the other is supposedly more correct.


I think I can avoid a lot of trouble by “showing not telling” - if the reader sees two people talking in sign language, it’s natural to assume at least one of them can’t hear speech well enough for it to be a useful form of communication.

I have mobility issues myself, so I do have some personal experiences in that area as well, but I’m fascinated by prosthetics out-doing nature so that’s why I’m looking for a double amputee if possible. I have a few useful connections so we’ll see if I can find that perfect beta reader. If not, there are lots of other options including people who have different types of mobility challenges to mine.

My fascination with deafness is mostly linguistic, so I have a lot more research to do there.

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aw yes mute characters!

plue 200000 character

I thought that I was alone to have CP in the COG: I sit in the wheelchair. :slight_smile:

Mine isn’t that severe, but it is really really annoying.

You turned years in Tuesday? So I did!

Edit: I understand what u mean. I know a part of them who has spastic.

How about just let the redears pick their own back story, For example." A war veteran who lose his legs recently and because of that he is striped of his position" maybe commander or just a priavte or w/e then after that pick Every backstory will go to this sentence “(gender) has now to live (with his chosen backstory) no legs or deaf or w/e”

if you didnt understand my point here it is:

  • i was in the army as a private when our squad got ambushed i was the only survivor though i wasnt left unscathed my legs were broken and besides that i had trauma.
  • im a painter who was born blind. but had an extremely wealthy family so ive been thought how to paint even without eyes.(experienced in living with disablity)
    *Im just a simple famer living here in the countryside with ma broken ribs.

Something like this. I dont know if everybody likes that, it is just my personal opinion.

That sounds good, thank you.

(And thanks everyone else for joining in the discussion.)

“really really annoying” is a good description of a lot of non-standard conditions. . . most people can do almost anything; it’s just five times as hard.

I started the discussion here because I know this is a safe space (and a space where people loooove IF, of course) and there are enough people in the community that there are sure to be plenty of people with a range of physical conditions.

One of the special things about the online world is that we meet people through their written thoughts before we know anything about their physical body. I love that.


I also have mild CP, although it mainly affects my leg muscles, so I type rather slow and walking is rather hard for me. I am also short-sighted and have mild hearing-loss

Nice! Now we are three members with CP.


I hope @Felicity_Banks won’t mind, but rather than create an entirely new thread asking a similarly themed question, I would like to piggyback on the promising discussion already here.

I have been open in the past about wanting to include a more diverse cast of characters in our upcoming sequel, inspired in no small part by my mother, who has MS. It was difficult to watch her struggle with the emotional lows of learning to live with this disease, but one of the things I love about her (and a coping tool I have proudly inherited from her) is a strong, sarcastic, self-deprecating sense of humor.

I mention this because I have included an NPC in our story who just happens to use a wheelchair and other handicap accessibility tools (which are mentioned in acknowledgement, especially when function needs to be taken in consideration to the story’s action, but not in a way that makes it a defining feature of the character, I hope). I have done a TON of research to get this right and be respectful. I would love to include some of that self-deprecating humor and laid back style, though I worry that from an “average abilitied” author, it may come off wrong, no matter the inspiration or intentions. It does not come up often and I know this is hard gauge without a playthrough to peruse, but one example is when the MC and another character are whispering to one another:

Looking back over his shoulder, he waves to get your attention. “Umm, hello? You two know my ears still work just fine, right? What’s the big secret?”

I have also thought of other ways to word this in case it’s too much, but I would love to hear some honest thoughts. Please and thank you!


Happy to have you here.

To me that’s light years from possibly being offensive, mainly because it’s the character talking BUT I get this stuff wrong a lot (see exhibit A: this thread).

I think the thing that works worst is saying what a character’s disability is, rather than having it unfold in the story, so your story summary is going to be the most potentially-offensive bit of writing (I’ll just not mention disability in my summary at all - after all, it’s not the most interesting thing about my characters anyway). It’s also the only bit trolls will took at as they desperately search for something to yell about.

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Agreed! That’s why I’m trying to weave the descriptions in as organically as possible, especially since this is someone the established characters already know, so they wouldn’t be reacting to any of this information or mobility equipment like it was new and unusual. I also don’t want to be so vague that the average reader who isn’t familiar is confused by its inclusion.

But, I know that these things can be trickier than they seem. Like, the example above is very much in the spirit of something my mother would say (in fact, she’d go so far as to use language like “cripple” which I’m barely even comfortable typing here, much less using in a publication, but for her it helps her own it, though I know if someone had the audacity to call her that to her face, she’d be crushed and I would also have some choice words to share with that person). I’m not planning on going that far, but with the “my ears work just fine comment,” I don’t want to accidentally insult deaf or hard of hearing people, either. Though, I might find people who can see both sides of the argument. Or maybe I’m overthinking it? That is always a possibility with me! :sweat_smile:


I don’t mean to step on any toes, as I’m new to the community, but I have a question. Is there a particular reason you decided on amputation above the knee? I assume this has to do with the unusual (magitek?) prosthetic you described, but when it comes to real-world prosthetics (even the very advanced ones) below/above the knee makes a big difference. I should note that I am by no means an expert on the subject, just curious as to your reasoning.


It’s a good question, and I’m looking into the different types of prosthetic legs (and stuff like climbing stairs).

I may yet change my mind to below-knee amputation (or one of each) but since my main character lives in a floating city, I wanted to design a fully articulating tail that was superior (in terms of speed) to flesh legs. It seemed simpler to attach it at the hip, in which case the less legs the better. Also, I like the casual feel of “shorties” (very small prosthetics that are comfy around the house). The field of prosthetics is fascinating, especially with modern 3D printing machines (I saw a girl on twitter who’s designed and printed her own glitter gun arm), and lends itself to different ways of thinking about how the human body can move and look, and ideas of beauty that don’t require two flesh legs.

My daughter has seen the “Yes I can” paralympics ad one too many times, and every so often she tells me she wishes she only had one leg, or no arms, or whatever (and I explain to her yet again that it’s their hard work that makes those musicians and paralympians so awesome; she is welcome to train as hard as them if she wants). I have my own mobility issues (in fact the discussion of this thread led to me getting a parking permit) so disability is something we talk about at home quite a bit.


Your daughter will test to sit in the wheelchair for a day if she wants to do. I sit in the wheelchair.

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I could help maybe? I mean… I know you’ve stated above that you know phobias due to your own anxiety but if you need another angle I can help out maybe, as I have agoraphobia and it’s impacted my life very… heavily.

But if you’ve got that covered then no worries. Look forward to the future though, your story sounds like it’s going to be interesting so I’ll be here quietly lurking in the shadows regardless. Not in a creepy way though. I swear.