Episode 525-With Elsa Sjunneson

On February 1, 2022, in Podcast, by Patrick Hester

Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism by Elsa SjunnesonThis week, Patrick and Tracy welcome Elsa Sjunneson, author of Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism.

About Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism: A Deafblind writer and professor explores how the misrepresentation of disability in books, movies, and TV harms both the disabled community and everyone else.

As a Deafblind woman with partial vision in one eye and bilateral hearing aids, Elsa Sjunneson lives at the crossroads of blindness and sight, hearing and deafness—much to the confusion of the world around her. While she cannot see well enough to operate without a guide dog or cane, she can see enough to know when someone is reacting to the visible signs of her blindness and can hear when they’re whispering behind her back. And she certainly knows how wrong our one-size-fits-all definitions of disability can be.

As a media studies professor, she’s also seen the full range of blind and deaf portrayals on film, and here she deconstructs their impact, following common tropes through horror, romance, and everything in between. Part memoir, part cultural criticism, part history of the Deafblind experience, Being Seen explores how our cultural concept of disability is more myth than fact, and the damage it does to us all.

About Elsa Sjunneson: Hugo, Aurora and British Fantasy Award Award winner Elsa Sjunneson writes and edits speculative fiction and non-fiction. She has been a finalist for the Best Fan Writer and Best Semiprozine Hugo Awards, a winner of the D. Franklin Defying Doomsday Award, and a finalist for the Best Game Writing Nebula Award.

Her fiction work has appeared in magazines such as Uncanny and Fireside, and as part of the team behind Serial Box’s exclusive: Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire. She’s worked on game design products such as Changeling, Wraith, The Fate Accessibility Toolkit and Dead Scare. She is most well known for her non-fiction which has appeared at CNN, tor.com, The Boston Globe and other venues.

As an editor, she’s worked as assistant and then managing editor of Fireside Quarterly, the non-fiction editor for Uncanny Magazine, and in 2018 she was the Co-Guest Editor in Chief of Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction.

She founded and wrote the popular blog Feminist Sonar from 2011-2016, where she laid groundwork for many discussions on disability in popular discourse. As an activist for disability rights, she has worked with New Jersey 11th for Change and the New York Disability Pride Parade.

As an educator and public speaker she has presented work at the University of Chicago and The Henry Art Gallery, and taught workshops with Clarion West, Writing the Other, and various Science Fiction conventions.

Her debut memoir Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism released from Tiller Press (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) October 5, 2021.

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© 2022 Patrick Hester

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