How Do You Tackle Writing About Blindness?

Blindness in literature calls for a clear understanding and respectful portrayal of visually impaired characters. Blindness can range from total lack of sight to differing levels of visual impairment, and further understanding of this can allow for a richer depiction of blind characters in your writing.

Understanding Blindness

The understanding of blindness differs in reality than what it is conventionally presumed to be. Visual impairment can range from total darkness, referred to as complete blindness, to an ability to perceive light, shadows or even vague shapes. Around 80-90% of visually impaired individuals are not entirely blind and can still perceive elements such as light or shadows while the remaining 10-20% are totally blind.

laptop and block notes

Modes of Blindness

    • Injury: Traumas that damage the eye, such as corrosive substances, lasers, or even accidents causing the nerves connecting the eyes and the brain to be severed, may result in blindness.
    • Illness: Diseases like cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, brain tumors, and autoimmune disorders can interfere with vision leading to blindness.
    • Birth defects: Congenital blindness can occur due to disorders resulting in underdevelopment or mutation of the tissues or nerves around the eyes, one such disorder is anophthalmia or microphthalmia.

Creating Blind Characters in Fiction

In order to create a compelling character who is blind, remember to:

  • Provide your blind character with a personality that is not centered around their blindness. They should possess interests, hobbies, skills, and flaws, like any non-disabled character.
  • Use the other senses effectively to narrate the setting, as blind individuals rely more on hearing, smell, and touch. Exploring these can really bring a setting to life.
  • Be aware of blind characters as unreliable narrators, they may misunderstand, misinterpret, or miss out on a lot of visual information around them.
  • Understand the role of guide dogs and how this can enrich your character’s life.
  • Get to grips with technologies and assistive devices to help blind individuals navigate the world independently, like screen readers.
writer working station

Misconceptions to Avoid

  • Blind individuals do not have ‘heightened’ senses. While they rely on their enhanced usage of their other senses, it isn’t because the senses are innately heightened.
  • Blind characters should not be assumed to be completely dependant on others. Most blind individuals can live fairly independently.


Writing about blindness requires understanding, respect, and thorough research. Make sure that the representation is authentic, nuanced, and does not shore up harmful stereotypes. It’s important to ensure that your representation is not only accurate but also demonstrates the humanity, resilience, and individuality of blind characters. Remember, blindness is a part of their character, it does not define them.

Related articles

Leave a Comment