Star Trek and the Future of Disability – #CripTrek

#CripTrek logo with a Star Trek insignia, and a wheelchair icon in the middle. Images of DS9's Melora and Discovery's Ash Tyler as well

Guest Blogger: In addition to being a Star Trek fan, RoAnna Sylver is the author of the hopeful-dystopian Chameleon Moon series, and is working on a vampire series Stake Sauce and Death Masquerade. You can follower them on Twitter, or check out their blog

Spend time in a sci-fi fandom, and you’ll notice something, especially if you’re disabled. Even in universes where warp drive is everyday, disabled and physically/mentally ill people are conspicuously scarce, often absent. We’re told our presence would be “unrealistic,” but I think the reverse is true. It’s unrealistic, and very telling, for us to be missing.

Seminal SFF franchise Star Trek isn’t perfect, but it does better than most. Even non-Trek fans know Geordi LaForge from The Next Generation, the visually disabled engineer whose adaptive equipment lets him do anything able-bodied people can, and then some. But there are a lot more disabled (and disability-coded) characters throughout the series, including the new Discovery. No media is perfect, and often, Trek’s complex stories are simultaneously excellent and disappointing. But, fittingly for the forward-looking franchise, there’s a lot of reason to hope. … Read more…

Convention Tips for Spoonies: Nerding Out with Fibromyalgia (and Other Disabilities)

Aerial shot of a convention hall packed with people looking at booths

Guest blogger: Elaine Tamblyn-Watts is an Ottawa-based Anglo-Anishinaabe writer and editor. She was supposed to become a foreign correspondent, but she developed fibromyalgia and had to drop out of journalism school, so now she watches a lot of cartoons and gets a lot more work done. Elaine served as copy editor for The Charlatan for the 2016-17 year, put out a poetry chapbook called Fingernail Moon, and is currently working on about nineteen other projects.

My best friend is a cosplayer. Between her eye for detail, her sewing skills, her sheer resourcefulness, and her courage in the face of frequent glue-gun burns, she’s got a real knack for it – and it shows. For her, our local comic con is bigger than Christmas. She waits for it, prepares for it, works late into the night beforehand and early the morning of. Last spring, she dragged me along with her.

Psyched as I was for us to hang out together, especially in full Teen Titans cosplay, I didn’t handle it super well. The lack of sleep barely fazed her, but it had me looking more like a Walking Dead extra than a 2005-era Cartoon Network Raven. I stumbled through the convention center parking lot with very little grasp of what I was getting into. After five minutes in the main con area, I nope’d back out again to hunt down some coffee and silence. By the end of the day, I was miserable and exhausted, and I figured conventions weren’t for me. … Read more…

Gaming While Learning Disabled: 3 Tabletop Games that Just Don’t Work

6 game pawns in different basic colors

Guest blogger: James Cole is a freelance writer living in Barrie, Ontario, Canada. He was diagnosed with a Learning Disability in Grade 4, in the wild and lawless 1980’s. James belongs to two board gaming groups, just started running a D&D campaign, and is wildly uncomfortable writing about himself in the third person. Yelling at James can be accomplished on Twitter, and you can judge his board game collection on Board Game Geek under the handle talentdepot.

I’ve made mistakes.

I try to be strategic in my board game purchases, but it’s complicated to navigate because of my Learning Disability.

I was diagnosed with a visual processing LD in grade school. Broadly translated, I have difficulty learning things I’ve seen. That includes basic things like math, spelling, and attaching people’s names and faces.

These three games are good, maybe even great games. Their reputation and reviews got me to purchase them. But they were unsuitable for me because of my LD. As a result, they’ve left my collection. … Read more…

Black Disabled Art History 101 – Book Review

Image of a black man in a room, a young black boy projected behind him on the wall

Guest blogger: Jackie Pilgrim is an advocate diagnosed with Asperger’s, mother to a young adult also on the Autism Spectrum, and an International Speaker on Autism and Intellectual Disabilities. You can find her on Facebook, as well as on her blog, AutismsLove.

A young Black boy born with a physical disability learns about Black disabled musicians from the album covers of his father’s record collection. Later, he would come to realize the strength he gained from seeing those images and listening to their music when having to face teachers and other adults constantly telling him there were no artists who were Black and disabled like him. Leroy Moore’s passion kindled when he was a little boy has come full circle as he draws from his childhood discovery of not being the only, but being one of many Black disabled artists.

Black Disabled Art History 101 will open airways and doorways for Black disabled children’s imaginations to soar as they aspire to become artists or whatever else they want to be. Like Leroy, they too will draw strength from the images, knowledge, music and written words about and born of disabled Black artists. Readers of all ages will enjoy discovering a genre of history little known, beautifully crafted with colorful portraits of artists and their work interwoven with poetry in an age old storytelling style.

Black Disabled Art History 101 is a chronicle of art history unlike any other.

This is only the beginning.

Read more…

The Mortiest Morty: Disability on Rick and Morty

Disability in Rick and Morty. Image of two main characters in a green swirl

Guest blogger: Adam Langley is a full-time dweeb and part-time writer, specializing in mental health, disability, and why Jessica Jones is the best Defender.

Disabilities are often treated by popular culture as problems that need to be fixed, as something to overcome. Learning or developmental disabilities in particular are shown to be surmountable if the character in question just works hard enough. Look at Sheldon Cooper. Look at TV shows like Atypical or literally any “special” episode which tries to portray autism or dyslexia. There is an underlying message that, with hard work and perseverance, and the willingness to step outside your comfort zone and let people in, you too can be “normal” – or at least as normal as you can be until the narrative requires a quick gag and your condition is played for laughs. … Read more…

Night in the Woods: Where It’s Okay Not to Be Okay

Night in the Woods: Where it's OK to not be OK. A cartoon cat image with big, yellow eyes

Guest blogger: Deborah J. Brannon (codename: Geek Dame) spends her days in the Southeastern United States, scribbling furiously as a freelancer and speculative fiction writer. In her free time that may or may not exist – it’s in a box somewhere with a cat, she really doesn’t like opening it – she plays video games and reads books and talks about both incessantly. Find out more at www.geekdame.com or follow her on Twitter at @geekdame.

“The point remains that this is the setup for some great stories.”

“Or terrible, horrifying, traumatic experiences.”

“Great clearly means different things for us.”

Gregg and Bea, Night in the Woods

Welcome to Night in the Woods. There is death here and disappointment and decay. There is also connection and catharsis and care. It’s okay not to be okay, and it’s okay to change your mind. You may face a cosmic horror, or meet the truest heart – all in a playfully illustrated, easy-to-navigate video game. … Read more…

Facing Anxiety: Streaming Games While Disabled

Facing Anxiety: Streaming Games While Disabled. Erin staring at her computer screen

Through most of my life, I’ve been afraid of public speaking. I always found more comfort in the written word; there’s a relief in the solace of the craft, and it gives me time to construct the perfect sentence. Getting my job at Easterseals forced me into public speaking, mostly over the phone. I facilitate conferences between our organization and potential influencers, report my progress during our department meetings, and hold one-on-one chats with my boss every Friday. All of these things would have seemed impossible to me a few years ago. Now, I still feel that twist in my stomach as my voice shakes, and my mind goes blank when asked questions. But with over two years of working there, I learned to find that confidence to speak, and to (mostly) not care if someone misunderstands me or notices how nervous I am.

Building that energy to speak publicly also affected my work here at The Geeky Gimp. I’ve branched off and made a podcast, hosted live events on Google, and now stream regularly on Twitch. I even appear on Geek Girl Riot, a show on Idobi Radio with over 20,000 listeners. Being forced to approach my fears led to other opportunities that I enjoy, and different ways to express myself. I’m able to reach out to more audiences about disability inclusion and accessibility. And more importantly, I’ve made some amazing friends through these projects where I would otherwise feel isolated. … Read more…

Autism and the Virtues of Single-Player RPGs

Autism and the Virtues of Single-Player RPGs. Screenshot of Mass Effect

Guest blogger: Amalena is a freelance writer and editor, and just received her BFA in Creative Writing. She loves fantasy novels, singing opera, and video games. You can check out more of her work on her blog, Some Girl with a Braid, and follow her on Twitter.

As an autistic individual, there’s a special place in my heart for single-player role-playing games. I started with Skyrim, fell in love, and have since added other games such as Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Portal, Diablo, and Assassin’s Creed to my computer.

As an autistic, one of the best things for me when it comes to games is the predictability. While exploring the world can provide plenty of unpredictability as far as spawning adversaries, especially for the first time, doing replays removes much anxiety-inducing uncertainty and allows pure enjoyment. I also know that completing the storylines will result in positive social interactions from the NPCs populating the virtual environment. In real life, social disability colors all my interactions. I don’t know if completing my questline will result in a positive experience; I’m liable to put my foot in my mouth at any moment, sometimes without realizing it. Video games are generally devoid of those situations. … Read more…

Geeky Gimp Birthday Event: Streaming for AbleGamers Charity #SoEveryoneCanGame

The Geeky Gimp's Live Birthday event for AbleGamers Charity August 27

Join me on my birthday for a fundraising event to benefit AbleGamers Charity!

On August 27th, from 2pm to 8pm EST, I’ll stream games on my Twitch channel and collect donations for this wonderful organization. AbleGamers’ goal is to ensure video games are accessible and affordable for a plethora of disabled gamers; they offer grants, services, and equipment so everyone can game.

Make sure to follow my Twitch page to know when I go live, and pop in the chat on the aforementioned date to find the donate link!

I hope you stop by the stream even if you are unable to contribute financially. I’m giving away two $50 gift cards to Steam or Amazon (your choice), so you won’t want to miss out.

Shares on social media are also greatly appreciated – just link to this post! The more we get the word out, the more money we can send to AbleGamers – and then, they can help more people live their gaming dream. Being able to do this on my birthday is the best gift I could receive.

I ran a similar event last year, and raised $446. My goal this year is $500. Let’s see if we can go higher this time.

Happy gaming!

Follow The Geeky Gimp on Twitch

The Digital Crip Wave: Podcasts by Disabled People

The Digital Wave: Podcasts by Disabled People

I started listening to podcasts about two years ago when I was looking to alleviate my insomnia; the first show I found was Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor of All Time Period with W. Kamau Bell and Kevin Avery. Being a Denzealot myself (who isn’t?), I was hooked by these hilarious and insightful dudes breaking down the best of Denzel’s work.

Then I started checking out other podcasts, like Stuff You Should Know, The Black Tapes, and Welcome to Night Vale. They all fascinated me in different ways, but I longed for the disability voice I wasn’t hearing in these shows. I wanted to know where all the crips were, and how I could support their work on the digital airwaves.

Through research and word-of-mouth, I discovered these rich, powerful, illuminating shows produced by crips. That’s why I created this living resource showcasing podcasts by disabled people. Our words hold value, and more folks need to pay attention. … Read more…