Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Disability and the Heroine

 Why did you include disability as an element in your story or stories?

I do include a few disabilities in some of my stories - hearing, blind, and amputation.

There is a saying, write what you know. I have four blind friends in my present and past, a friend who lost a lower leg in a motorcycle accident, and I myself grew up compensating for a major hearing loss. I feel I know those subjects well enough to write them effectively. Interestingly, each of those friends has taught me something new. For example I didn't know dogs were color blind until my one blind friend explained to me why her hearing dog crossed her in the middle of the street while I went on to the stop light. Her dog was trained to cross when it heard no vehicles.  I experienced the pure joy of a group of deaf-blind persons when I drove a deaf-blind friend to their social meeting and talked with them using hands the way they do.  I was slow - their hands just flashed - but every one of them had a smile on their face and "spoke" with me. Wonderful folks. Then there is me. A lifetime of experience being hearing impaired but growing up in the hearing world before such was done. My parents were special. They gave me the gift of unlimited potential. I consider the few disabled persons in my stories are that. Persons with unlimited potential.

With a major hearing disability, how do you talk with folks?

 I was only four years old when my parents brought me home from the hospital after a combined bout of spinal meningitis and measles. I was totally deaf and so weak I had to relearn everything starting how to hold a spoon and eventually to walk again. My mother took me to interminable doctor appointments seeking help. One day we were on a streetcar going to another appointment, I in my usual window seat, resting my head against the window pane to feel the clacking wheels. We entered a black tunnel and I felt a pop.

Then I heard an airplane, and I asked my mother where the airplane was.  When we came out of the tunnel my mother was in tears when she pointed ahead to the airplane.

It wasn't much - I regained about one-fourth hearing in one ear - but it was enough to make all the difference in my world.  I did just fine after that, using what I call the face reading game.

Face Reading Game
*A smile is the sign of friendship
*Look at me, not at the ceiling or past me to the wall
*Speak normally - if you draw the word out slow I don't get it, if you run a bunch of words together nonstop fast, I don't get them 
*Give me the one-word subject if I don't understand the first time. It's like a thesaurus - with a subject, I can usually pick up  the rest of the sentence
*Don't repeat - say it with different words. If I didn't catch it the first time it may have been blurred by the hidden sound words (s, t, for instance,) that don't show for lip-reading when one speaks.
*Turn your face to the light. I can't read lips with the light in my eyes.

Note: Delores Goodrick Beggs wrote the award-winning 1992 book How Can I Talk With You? Compensating Communication, Published by Peak Output Unlimited, Staceyville, Iowa, 50476. 

Delores is the author of Place in the Heart Book One, Breaking Point, released by Desert Breeze Publishing May 11, 2012.

Breaking Point – Sisters are forever, right?
Only Mauranie Wells is torn between the struggle to establish her New Mexico horse ranch dream of security for herself and her younger sister, orphaned by the accidental deaths of their parents; a sister as different from Mauranie as day from night. Mauranie grew up with a hearing impairment and working with the horses suits her fine. Tennyson craves bright lights and excitement, not a dusty horse ranch – until Texas banker Stemson Arroyo Smith rides into the Bar W one day and things swiftly approach the breaking point. Stemson and Mauranie’s story.


  1. You have done a great job of leading by example. I hope your writing continues.

  2. Thanks for your comment. A little support goes a long way in inspiration when you have a disability.

  3. Thanks so much for visiting, Delores. I have learned from both your writing stories and your disability stories. Congratulations on Breaking Point!The family dynamic with disability as a factor would be another interesting topic one day!