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Disabilities are a natural part of life -- and so it's natural to want to play disabled characters. But in creating characters with disabilities which you're not familiar with, it can be difficult to portray them without unknowingly being insensitive to the needs of actually disabled players roleplaying with you. Don't despair! There are two pieces of general advice which will help you on your way to creating a beautiful disabled magical girl.

The first, of course, is research: not just of the medical criteria for your character's disability, but also of the feelings of people with that disability. There are many areas on the internet where people with disabilities talk about their challenges and their advantages, and listening to them will help you to portray your character thoughtfully. No matter who you listen to, you'll likely find that real people rarely meet every single point of medical criteria. People find difficulty in getting diagnoses because their problems don't quite fit; people who ask five different doctors about their issues may get three or four or even five different diagnoses from them. This is one important point you'll learn when learning about people who share your character's disability -- you'll find many more, specific to the disability you're learning about.

Secondly, ensure that your character's disability is not the defining point of her character. Consider Togo, the paralysed girl from Yuki Yuna: she uses a wheelchair, but you can just as easily describe her as an excellent cook, a website designer, and a patriot. A character's disability shouldn't be their most obvious descriptor, or the crux of their design -- it should be one part of a larger whole. Just as a player should play a character instead of the culture that character lives in, a player should play a character instead of the condition that that character lives with. If your character can be simply summed up as 'a girl with anxiety', you likely need more character for your character!

Please keep in mind that some of the players on Battle Fantasia are disabled, as well. You may hear people talking about their medications, or about their disabilities, in a casual manner. (Many of us refer to our medications as 'drugs', for instance -- but they're not recreational, they're necessary!) You may also hear some people with mental disabilities discussing their problems, and we ask that you be respectful and compassionate if you see someone upset. In general mental illness is something that is sort of a far frontier of people being thoughtful about. "Crazy, cuckoo, nuts, psycho, sociopath, bipolar, autistic, OCD," etc. are all pretty common, thoughtless parlance. The way they're used tends to be as a way of articulating a failure of empathy, an inability to understand where somebody's coming from. We encourage people to think twice before they inadvertantly equate confusion or incompetence with mental illness through use of a casual slur.

Some members of the disability community characterize themselves as 'differently abled,' a worthy philosophical distinction in the sense that it moves away from a word defined by inferiority to 'ability.' Other members of the community dislike being called 'differently abled,' because they feel that the ways that their disability impacts their life negatively needs to be clearly expressed (and for other reasons as well, that is only one). As always, it is best to simply use whatever terms a given person prefers.

STAFF NOTE: This is under construction. If you have any feedback for how we can fix phrasing or improve the overall message, please email it to us at battlefantasiastaff@gmail.com.

For more information, please see Rules, Gender and Sexuality, Race, Behavior, and Rating.