Friday, September 7, 2018

Science Fiction and Accessibility

A yellow dog with long brown ears and a white beard is sitting in a blue wheelchair that zips by the outside world as though rocket-powered.

The year is 2732.  Humans have colonized Mars and three other planets in two different galaxies.  We have contact with no less than sixteen alien species.  There are spaceships, teleporters, laser guns, and androids.  But there are zero disabled/neurodivergent people.

If one in four of us is disabled, where are we in the future?  Are we cured?  Dead?  Were we raptured by the alien god of Scientology?  Disabled and neurodivergent people are often not a part of the thousands of potential futures writers dream of.  Seven types of aliens?  Sure!  Twenty-one types of plasma guns?  Oh, yeah!  An autistic pilot?  Uh, nope.  We're not even a footnote on planets and universes made from scratch.

Sci-fi authors who bring up our absence pick "cure" as the explanation.  No thought is given to people who don't want a cure.  Every disease, disability, deformity, and neurological condition is eradicated—something too convenient and unlikely because of the sheer scope and number of causes each can have.

In a world with oodles of high-level tech, accessibility would be unparalleled.  Everyone could use mechs.  Modified spaceships would be available to the general public.  We could finally have a society built for every type of person!  Our disabilities could remain present without sacrificing our chance to be fully integrated.  And that, dear readers, is often seen as the biggest feat of fiction in any possible universe.

What worlds will you create?

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