While it is of the utmost importance to recognize the existence of disabilities and the absolute need for accessibility and representation, it is also important to take the time to celebrate the achievements of individuals who have disabilities.
One major controversy among the disabled community is the lack of true representation on a number of levels. For instance, all too often non-disabled actors and actresses are cast to play disabled characters while actual disabled actors are left disappointed and struggling to find work. The lack of representation in the disabled community is nothing new. It wasn’t until 1988 that Gallaudet University (A school for the deaf) had it’s first deaf president, and it was only after the students protested and fought to see themselves reflected in leadership.
With these common representation issues in mind, here is a list of great books about disabled characters that were actually written by disabled authors.
On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis is a great work of fiction. It follows an autistic woman named Denise as she navigates the apocalypse. The story takes place in the year 2034 in the Netherlands. The protagonist, Denise tries to find her missing sister while helping her troubled motherboard a spaceship. If you like creative takes on the end of the world, this is a book for you.
Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability edited by Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black, and Michael Northen
This beautifully done anthology of poetry is written strictly by American poets who live with physical disabilities. The collection explores a number of poetry movements, from language to narrative, and includes writing on blindness, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and many other disabilities. The poets share complex thoughts and feelings surrounding relationships with themselves and their respective disabilities.
No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Parenthood, and Faith in an Age of Advanced Reproduction by Ellen Painter Dollar
Painter tells her moving life story of living with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), a genetic bone disorder. After passing the disorder down to her first child she must decide whether or not to conceive her second child using assisted reproduction to avoid another OI diagnosis in the family. The book does a great job of sharing the many sides of the debate surrounding advanced reproductive technologies.
Originally published on Russ Ewell’s website.