There are many great movies and books that highlight people with disabilities but it seems that they are overshadowed by other popular genres/celebrities. The 2022 awards season we saw Troy Kotsur, a deaf man, win an Oscar for their overwhelmingly outstanding performance in the series CODA. The first deaf person to ever do so. Representation can be lacking and that only hurts the cause. Many stars have been up and coming in the world of film and books and it's high time we recognize them! Here are my top picks for books/movies you should look out for!
A Sign of Affection is a new manga released recently about a deaf girl who befriends a young man who travels abroad regularly. He becomes quite infatuated with her and starts learning sign language to better communicate with her. This series is only on its third book but it really has me hooked. It’s a whole new perspective on the world and what a deaf person has to go through to make it, and that includes having a love life.
Perfect World is a mini-series that follows a young man who was in a car accident in his younger years and a girl who had a crush on him. She has to learn the hard way that the world wasn’t made for people in wheelchairs and they have to go the extra mile to be taken seriously. The construction of their potential relationship causes problems not only for them but for their families and friends as well. This one is definitely worth the read; if only to see what obstacles others face in their day-to-day that we don’t even stop to think about.
A Silent Voice is a popular anime/manga, also about a deaf girl, that has won over many people! I won’t go into too many details other than to say she gets bullied because of her disability. This heart-wrenching story will have you feeling all your emotions and wondering where you go from here! This is not an easy one to move on from.
The Upside is a drama/comedy, starring Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston, about a quadriplegic man and an ex-convict that was based on a true story. This movie came out in 2019 and I think it really showed the frustrations of not being able to do things yourself and in your own way. The world can be scary when you are not the one in control and I think this film delved deep into the mental issues people can suffer when dealing with an able-bodied world. In contrast to the feel-goods in this movie towards the end, Madea’s Family Reunion showed the opposite spectrum where a disabled man was mistreated (by the woman he had been abusing before he became disabled but that’s beside the point).
Unbroken: 13 stories starring disabled teens is a compendium of short stories by disabled authors. It’s billed as an anthology of teenage characters who reflect diverse genres, colors, genders, and orientations without obscuring the reality of their disabilities. Not only can we discuss just how groundbreaking this book is but also how it impacts the youth who may be suffering on their own in silence, worried that their peers don't understand what they are going through. Representation matters to everyone and seeing a little piece of yourself could be just the push to get someone's day going the right way.
Until I Find you is a mystery thriller where a young woman in her twenties is slowly going blind. One day she faints and when she regains consciousness, she finds that the son she has always known is no longer the same son. She tries to enlist aid to help her find her own son but no one believes her as she is going blind and must not remember correctly what he looked like. This story will leave you on the edge of your seat as you empathize with her situation and hopefully come to see the obstacles as things that could happen to anyone at any time. Reading this will definitely give you a new outlook on our own blessings and will have you wanting to help those who rely on others.
Of course, there are so many more other great examples of disabilities in media; Glass, Split, and Unbreakable is a trilogy that comes to mind (though they are not without some controversy over the portrayal of mental disorders). Having a plethora of things at their disposal, authors, producers, filmmakers, and artists should really be exposing us to more representation that benefits everyone. Educating is the responsibility of storytellers but it needs to be done properly and with respect. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before we will have more winners like Troy Kotsur in any and every category from film to novel! What are some of your own titles that you enjoy and think should get some limelight? Start a conversation with us!
There are many movies/books out there that have disabled persons as their protagonist. These are just a few of other good options to look at. Some of these have mature or controversial content so please be aware before placing a hold.