For all of the parents and families of children who are blind or low vision, I want to introduce you to a new book in the Dragon Masters series. If you haven’t heard of the series yet, you should, because it offers short adventures through an imaginative mythical world filled with children paired with magical dragons. Each dragon has specific powers, which can be harnessed by the child paired with the dragon. The 16th book in the series, The Call of the Sound Dragon, introduces a new principle character, Tessa, who is blind. The author, Tracey West, made the effort to include input from individuals who are blind to assure this project was respectful and creative.
I consult and advise on projects in the entertainment world specific to blindness. I am blind and I live my life every day like this. My graduate work was at Florida State University specific to teaching children who are blind or low vision, orientation & mobility, and a specialty in transition from school to work. I have worked in different roles in the field of blindness, instructing people and children who are blind in all facets of their lives. Over the years, I have worked with thousands of people who are blind or low vision. My background in entertainment comes from my undergraduate work at East Carolina University, where I studied Communications and took classes on media effects, gender communication and many others. Throughout high school, I also worked at a video rental store in New Jersey, where I had unlimited access to movies—does anyone remember the VHS tape?
Why is this relevant? I was losing my vision, and my first introduction to people who are blind up close was through media. Over my time at East Carolina and later on at Florida State, I started watching all kinds of movies that included characters who are blind and seeking books on the same topic. As I became more and more connected to the blindness community, I became more sensitive to the portrayal of blindness. Over the years, I have been able to work on shows like Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix, The OA on Netflix and SEE on AppleTV+. I have helped with commercials, documentaries, periodicals and other shows in more limited roles. As a person who is blind, seeing myself portrayed in media in a respectful way is so important. Typically, we are shown as a person in need or just a person with a disability. We are so much more than that.
I was proud to provide consultation on this new book, as Tracey and Scholastic wanted to do this correctly, even within this magical and mythical world. I believe you all will find Tessa and Sono, Tessa’s Sound Dragon, to be a motivated and cool team. Tessa is living her life with an internal locus of control, as she controls her own destiny while impacting the world positively. I hope you will take the time to check out Tessa’s adventure in Dragon Masters, which will be released on June 1, 2020. I know I will be. Please let me know what you think of the book, and let me know your favorite portrayals of blindness in media. I am always looking for something new to check out. The Royal National Institute for the Blind and the National Network for Equitable Library Service assisted Scholastic in creating accessible versions of this book. If you are looking for other parent and family advice, check out the rest of FamilyConnect!
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