Real People, Real Stories: A Podcast on Accessibility by TPGi

Real People, Real Stories Episode 6: Elsa Sjunneson, professor, historian, media critic, author, sensitivity reader, and editor

July 7, 2021

Mark Miller, the host, his producer Marissa, and marketing intern Dara, speak with Elsa Sjunneson, self-described “Deafblind hurricane in a vintage dress” and professor, historian, media critic, author, sensitivity reader, and editor. She is also the first deafblind woman to win a Hugo.

Elsa first discusses her approach as an editor: prioritize diverse voices and then “get out of the author’s way.” She then emphasizes the importance of adaptive aids, describing them as an extension of a person’s body rather than a "nice to have." Elsa goes on to explain the purpose of a white cane and points out that media rarely shows characters using one correctly. She then shares her thoughts on how a writer without a disability should conduct research in order to create  a realistic character with a disability. At the end of the podcast, Elsa talks about her love of fencing and how societal bias can affect writing and real life.

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