We Need Representation!

by Chelsey Zumpano

A girl walking in the ocean with her white cane out in front of her. She is wearing a red baseball hat, her brown hair in a ponytail, purple sun glasses, Christmas tree earrings, a purple sweater, and blue jeans.

(painting credit goes to Chelsey Zumpano).

Representation is extremely important because it allows you to see yourself in that character, to identify with their experiences, to have a character just like you, and to not feel alone. I know of a lot of LGBTQ representation from Korra and Assami who are bisexual and girlfriends from The Legend of Korra,’ Nico  di Angelo coming out as gay in Rick Riordan’s ‘Heros of Olympus,’ and my favorite character Alex Fierro being Gender Fluid and Transgender in ‘Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard’ by Rick Riordan. Then I can name to characters on the Autism Spectrum Sam from ‘Atypical’ and Shaun Murphy from ‘The Good Doctor'” But there is very little representation of characters who are blind.

Imagine all those lives the characters touched and helped come out, accept themself, or give them hope that they can do more then they think! Now imagine you were born blind, or you just lost your sight or discovered that you were going to lose it over time. You need something to show it’s okay and to help accept yourself. No matter what your trying to accept about yourself you need a little help getting there.

I can only think of three characters that are blind!

• Matt Murdock ‘Daredevil’

Now I haven’t watched much of ‘Daredevil’ and so far the representation is okay. Matt lost his sight from radioactive chemicals, (which according to google), gave him super heightened senses. The fact that his senses are heightened is lots better, then just Hollywood making it out like us blind are all super humans. But the one thing I don’t like is that there’s this seen where matt’s two friends are on a date and they are touching each other’s face, “to see how Matt sees” and no that’s not a thing we do! Please don’t add that in movies’ books or TV shows! If we want to know what you look like describe yourself to us. The reason why I think people think we do this is because Helen Keller, (who was both deaf and blind), so she had to touch people’s lips to feel what they were saying. (Don’t quote me on that because I saw it on facebook, so correct me if I’m wrong about her touching people’s lips).

• Toph BeiFong from ‘Avatar the last Airbender’

Toph was born blind and her parents treated her like she was helpless, but she proved them wrong by learning earthbending from the Badgermoles and she then uses this ability to do echolocation by feeling the vibrations in the earth. She secretly participates in Earthbending tournaments where she has several wins. She then goes to teach Aang Earthbending, (against her parentts wishes). She becomes the first metalbender and starts an academy for it. In ‘The Legend of Korra’ she was the former police chief and raised two daughters.

• Ethan Nakamura from ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ by Rick Riordan

Ethan was a Demigod son of the Greek Goddess Nemesis. Nemesis is the Goddess of balance, retribution, and revenge. Epan’s mother promised him that he’d one day balance the world’s power in exchange for his left eye. He proves just because you have a visual impairment that doesn’t mean you can’t fight with a sword and we can be on either side of a war.

That is only three characters, from three different medias and genres. There needs to be way more! Here are some tips for having a blind character.

• Having your character move your cane from side, to side out in front of them in an ark gives lots more tactile feed back because your keeping constant contact with the ground.

• Less then 10 percent of blind people do not have any light perception at all.

• I personaly wear regular glasses, (with out any prescription), to protect my eyes and sun glasses because my eyes have truble adjusting when I go in and out, so keep in mind that others could have light sensitivity as well. I also wear reading glasses when drawing to help with blurryness.

• Guide dogs do not see traffic lights and so the handler has to tell the dog when to go by listening to the trafic, but the dog can stop if there’s a car right in front of them.

• When using a phone I have the brightness and text at 100 percent. I also use VoiceOver, (which is a screen reader for IOS).

• If your character is in main stream school they will have an IEP, (Individual Education Plan), and this is for kids and teens with disabilities to get extra help and accommodations You can read about mine in ‘My true story growing up visionally impaired.’

If you would like to be interviewed or otherwise contribute to this blog or YouTube send an email to:

viblindresources@gmail.com

In the comments let me know of some good movies, books, or TV shows with a blind character.

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