Dungeons, Dragons, and Disabilities

In every character I create, I build a challenge to increase my awareness and perspective. One of those challenges I’ve taken is one of being a deaf boy by the name of Reiner.

What I’ve noticed is that, moreso than the players (that’s another story), this presents a challenge for my DMs in the kind of interactions my character can have in their world.

I sign to people, but they don’t sign back. I’m non-verbal excepting through telepathy, but I like to communicate with people who want to talk. The issue is that I’m not aware of who that is because they don’t sign back. I’ve spent more time interacting with pokemon in the game than people because I don’t know how to communicate with them except for either:

  • A written note
  • Telepathy

While I could use my telepathic abilities to speak to people, imagine for a moment the shock of hearing someone else’s voice in your mind when you were not expecting it.

Reiner was also raised with manners, so he only does that with pokemon and party members. The party members were a risk. All of this got me thinking about what being in a game is like when you’re roleplaying as a person with a disability and….


When we run into a blind or otherwise disabled NPC, it’s usually taken in stride. They aren’t out and doing things, they are teaching and telling stories of days gone by or they are on a council. They are no longer adventuring.

In a world where we can be or do anything, we can’t imagine someone doing it without being able to see or hear. We’ve can be criminals with hearts of gold, orphans, demon possessed, half-demons, half-angels. Somehow, these are completely acceptable things to be and make stories around.

But a blind person? A deaf person? That’s just a lesser restoration spell. We can’t imagine that someone could be born into a world of magic and not be neuroatypical or anything else other than what we consider “normal” or “correct” ways to exist. To say that is the height of hubris is an understatement.

How is being born deaf or blind any different than being born with magic? Have we even asked this question? I’d like to start. I’d like to see more room for these kind of adventurers in our games because the gag is this: they are at our tables and DM’ing our games, anyway.