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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

New Author Who Wants to Get It Right

I've begun working on a novel with a diverse cast, including a character who is blind. At the point that he appears in the story he has lived with his blindness (caused by chemical damage as a young child) for many years and is in his mid-twenties. The setting is a medieval fantasy world, and he is a member of a temple of assasins. A rather high ranking member, in fact. His visual imparement does not stop him from being an assassin in any way, though his style is much different from his peers. His god gives him a familiar who will help him much like a guide dog would to get around.
My question is this, what do I need to know to make sure I protray him correctly as a person with visual impairment versus a "blind person".
I already know a few things, like how he might have trails he knows by heart in his own temple but if something is moved he may get lost in his own home. And I know to focus on his other senses when writing in much more detail than characters without visual impairment.
I realize that each person with visual impairment has their own ways of dealing with it, so I can't expect him to represent everyone. However, I want to make a character who is more than just "the blind guy". He won't overcome his impairment, and he won't see it as a curse or something to hate. I just want him to be a person, but I don't want to oretend that life wouldn't be different for him. Please, help me make a charcter you would be glad to hear about in a story, I don't want my ignorance to marginalize him.

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blind killer

An "assassin" means a phanatic who kills people in the name of a religious conviction. Who cares if his methods differ from those of his sighted fellow killers? Your character who is a member of a "temple" (read has such a religious relationship with his "God" that the "God" gives him a "familiar" to assist him in getting around so that he can kill people better.)
Oh goody!! This blind guy kills people under the guidance of his religious order.
Frankly, if you honor your blind character, you may want to create a better reality for him.
You can still ask us questions about being blind to make him authentic. You can ask those of us who have participated in martial arts about the effects such practice has had on our lives. But please let's improve your character a bit. Frodo was noble because he did what needed to be done, rather than because he snuffed people.
You may unconsciously be creating quite a different stereotype from the one you intend.

Re: New Author Who Wants to Get It Right

I agree with the person before me. Each person with vision issues is different and is affected differently plus understanding if there are other factors involved like Autism, developmental delay, hearing impaired, etc... is the character partially sighted or complete blindness that will also affect the character.

People don't get lost in their own homes even if something is moved they just might run into.

please stick to gnomes, dragons, elves etc.

Let's start out by talking about what you think you know about totally blind people or about people who can see some but are still considered "legally blind." I have known litterally hundreds of people whose vision went from not seeing light or shadows to just below the limit where they would not be "legally blind" but would be what you would consider "normal".
This is a heart-felt plea from talking to those people about how we feel when being written about, portrayed in games or fantasies or made to do absurd things in movies.
We do hope you budding authors suppress whatever fantasy you have about portraying us until you actually get to know some blind people personally and read lots and lots, and I do mean lots, of autobiographies.
Please read what blind people write about ourselves rather than what somebody writes about us. Your feedback and your learning about how blindness and sight functions in our lives will be less filtered that way.
Look at the message on this board following this one and please read the response. It contains a sample of autobiographies and biographies.
Writing about a partially sighted person may be trickier than writing about a totally blind one. Each kind of partial sight is different. Glaucoma effects vision differently from macular degeneration, cataracts, retinitis pigmentosa and so forth. For more on this you can visit
One comment in closing.
even totally blind people don't get lost in their own homes if somebody happens to move something like a chair or something. So a person with some vision certainly wouldn't get lost in his own home. I wonder where sighted folks get these silly ideas!

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