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Disabled Book Characters: Five of our Favourites

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Disabled book characters

From Christopher John Francis Boone to Melody Brooks, here are five of our favourite disabled book characters

It’s easier to relate to characters who share similarities with you. So, for anyone with a disability, it’s refreshing to read about someone who has experienced and understands your personal struggles and limitations, but also has a story to tell and is more than capable of facing challenges head-on. There are lots of amazing disabled book characters out there, although some might argue there aren’t enough. Here are some you might want to add to your reading list to get started. 

Christopher John Francis Boone

Christopher John Francis Boone is the main character in Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

His autism means he doesn’t think or react in the same way as other people might when he discovers his neighbour’s dead dog. He sets out to solve the murder, and this gets him into a few sticky situations.

The book is well written by Haddon and goes inside the mind of someone with autism, giving those diagnosed with autism a character they can understand and relate to, while helping everyone else get a better understanding of how it feels.

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There’s one particular scene which describes the process of Christopher trying to get on the tube and it shows his apprehension over a task that is a daily occurrence for most people, but is a big challenge to overcome for him.

Disabled book characters

Secrets Typed In Blood Book Cover

Lillian Pentecost

Lillian Pentecost is a character created by Stephen Spotswood in his A Pentecost and Parker Mystery Series. Lillian is described as an unorthodox private detective. She takes on another woman to help her (Will Parker) when the MS makes it difficult to keep up with her caseload.

Set in the 1940s, this noir series has two strong female characters in a time when women struggled more than they do today to be taken seriously. Combined with Lillian’s MS, it shows what women and people with a disability can do when the odds and other people’s expectations are stacked against them.

Reba McClane

Fans of Red Dragon by Thomas Harris will know Reba McClane is the blind co-worker who Francis Dolarhyde falls for. While the relationship may not be the healthiest, particularly because he tries to kill Reba, the FBI profiler, Will Graham later attributes her kindness to Dolarhyde killing fewer people than he might have if it wasn’t for her.

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She may not be a major character in the book, compared to Dolarhyde and Graham but this makes her an integral part of the story and shows that it’s the small acts that can have the most impact. Reba is an inspiration to anyone wanting to make a difference.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame © Pixabay

Quasimodo

It might seem strange to list Quasimodo as an interesting or inspiring disabled character, particularly when nobody would take being compared to him as a compliment. However, Victor Hugo’s famous character from The Hunchback of Notre Dame experienced more than his fair share of persecution.

Unfortunately, this is something many disabled people can relate to. He was born with a hunch that set his appearance apart from other people and later became deaf. His basic nature was kind, but he was led to commit violence by others who used him for their own gain, or when he is forced to defend himself.

His kindness gradually wins the friendship of his love interest, Esmeralda. Although this turns tragic, the emotions he shows so strongly show he is as deserving of love and friendship as anyone else, perhaps more so.

Melody Brooks

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Melody Brooks is the main character in Out of My Mind and Out of My Heart by Sharon M. Draper. Being unable to walk, talk or write because of her Cerebral Palsy poses challenges, but doesn’t stop her from being the smartest kid in her school, even though nobody else realises it. Her photographic memory means she can remember every detail from every experience in her life. Because she can’t demonstrate this, everyone writes her off, dismissing her as mentally challenged.

The books and Melody’s character are great for helping others realise that there is often more beneath the surface than a person’s disability. 

If you read and enjoy any of the books mentioned in this article, make sure you share them with your friends and family, disabled or not, because we all have something to learn and can take inspiration from these books and the characters inside them.

 

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Breaking Barriers: Inspiring Leadership from Physically Disabled CEOs

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In the realm of corporate leadership, a group of remarkable individuals is not just making waves but breaking down barriers—CEOs who, despite facing physical challenges, have risen to the top echelons of their respective industries. Their stories of resilience, determination, and success serve as beacons of inspiration. Let’s delve into the lives and achievements of the top five physically disabled CEOs who are transforming perceptions and paving the way for a more inclusive future.

Satya Nadella – Microsoft:

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, stands as a testament to the power of inclusive leadership. Though not physically disabled himself, Nadella’s commitment to accessibility and empathy in technology has been shaped by his son Zain, who has cerebral palsy. Under Nadella’s leadership, Microsoft has prioritized accessibility initiatives, creating technology that caters to individuals with diverse abilities.

Jen Easterly – Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA):

Jen Easterly, Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in the United States, has had a distinguished career in cybersecurity and counterterrorism. Easterly’s achievements highlight the importance of diverse perspectives in critical fields. Despite facing physical challenges, she has risen to lead a key agency responsible for securing the nation’s critical infrastructure.

Alexandra Reeve Givens – Center for Democracy & Technology:

Alexandra Reeve Givens, President and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology, has combined her legal expertise with a commitment to technology policy. Daughter of the late Christopher Reeve, she carries on his legacy of resilience. Givens advocates for digital rights and is a prominent voice in discussions surrounding privacy, online freedom, and disability rights.

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John Kemp – The Viscardi Center:

John Kemp, President and CEO of The Viscardi Center, has dedicated his career to empowering people with disabilities. As a person with a disability himself, Kemp’s leadership has played a pivotal role in advancing disability rights and accessibility. His work at The Viscardi Center focuses on education, employment, and empowerment for individuals with disabilities.

Caroline Casey – The Valuable 500:

Caroline Casey, though not a CEO in a traditional sense, is the founder of The Valuable 500, a global initiative advocating for disability inclusion in business. Casey, who is visually impaired, has been a driving force behind major corporations committing to making their workplaces more inclusive. Her work emphasizes the business case for diversity, challenging companies to prioritize disability inclusion at the highest levels.

The journeys of these physically disabled CEOs highlight that leadership knows no physical bounds. Their stories inspire us to reevaluate preconceptions and recognize the value of diversity in leadership

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Ade Adepitan, a Black BBC presenter and disability inclusion advocate, is breaking barriers.

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Ade Adepitan

In the world of television broadcasting, Ade Adepitan stands out not just for his charming personality, but also for his incredible journey as a black and disabled BBC presenter. Adepitan’s narrative is one of perseverance, breaking down barriers, and becoming a strong advocate for disability inclusion in the media. 

Ade began his athletic career at an early age, motivated by a love of wheelchair basketball. His talent in the sport inspired him to join the Great Britain wheelchair basketball team, which competed in the Paralympic Games in 2004. His passion and accomplishments on the court established the groundwork for a tremendous career that would span other sports.

Ade Adepitan

Adepitan’s journey into broadcasting began as a sports presenter, covering major events such as the Paralympic Games and the Invictus Games. His eloquence, passion, and depth of insight quickly caught the attention of the BBC, leading to his role as a prominent broadcaster and documentary maker.

Ade Adepitan’s impact at the BBC is both profound and trailblazing. As a black presenter with a disability, he brings a unique perspective to the screen, challenging stereotypes and reshaping narratives. Adepitan’s warmth and authenticity have made him a beloved figure among audiences, transcending barriers of race and ability.

Besides his on-screen talents, Adepitan is a strong champion for disability rights and inclusivity. He uses his platform to raise awareness about the issues that disabled people experience, as well as to advocate for more media representation. Adepitan’s lobbying includes efforts targeted at increasing opportunities for disabled people in the entertainment sector.

Ade Adepitan’s experience as a black, disabled BBC presenter acts as an inspiration for aspiring broadcasters and anyone confronting physical problems. His accomplishments emphasise the necessity of diversity in media representation and add to the continuing conversation regarding inclusivity in the entertainment business.

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In conclusion, Ade Adepitan’s tale demonstrates the power of determination, tenacity, and honesty.

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Listen to Dis’: Disability-Led Arts Organisation

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Listen to Dis

Listen to Dis’ are the inclusivity-focused, disability-led arts organisation championing disability culture through art and performance

Listen to Dis’ is a registered non-profit community arts organisation that champions disability culture through the medium of inclusive art and performance. Their work manifests in many forms including workshops, artist series and theatrical touring, and everything has an underlying message to support and empower the global disabled community. 

Here we highlight how Listen to Dis’ is bringing this message to life: 

Listen to Dis’ VOICE

Listen to Dis’ VOICE is a weekly open-access program where artists join forces to learn, create, explore, and connect. The focus topic changes each week yet is always in keeping with the Listen to Dis’ core message of advocating for the disabled community. Through this profound program, Listen to Dis’ has created some truly important work surrounding ableist ways disabled bodies and minds are viewed. 

Listen to Dis

Listen to Dis

The Other Ordinary

The Other Ordinary is Listen to Dis’ touring crip theatre company. Launched out of a class at the University of Regina named Devising Inclusive Theatre, and directed by Listen to Dis’ founder and artistic director Traci Foster. Dubbed TOO, it fosters the talents of emerging professional artists that produce tour shows with a focus on how it feels to live and work as disabled people. 

Take their first show, ‘Neither Heroes nor Ordinary People,’ as a prime example, which uncovers the realities of living with disabilities through music, monologue, dance, beatbox, and singing. Their second show, Mine to Have, is about sexuality, sensuality, disability, and 

the political right to live in one’s body. 

Listen to Dis

Listen to Dis

Visiting Artist Series

LTD’s visiting artist series connects disabled artists with the wider arts ecology by inviting artists, both disabled and not, to host workshops that explore disability art. Inviting artists from outside the LTD’s group enables LTD’s network to expand but also ignites deeper learning on both parts of the essence of disability culture and mindset. 

LTD’s is amplifying the voices of the disabled community through a variety of mediums that all celebrate art, performance and culture. Follow their journey on their Instagram here

Through facilitated dialogue and inclusive art practice and performance, we weave new realities for our members and for the broader community – shifting the way people perceive disability and creating an understanding of and appreciation for crip art, mad art, and disability culture.

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