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The following is in response to a question you answered for me.
Claw was mute. Renard was confined to a wheelchair. I'm not tooting my own horn here, I just think that maybe you're overlooking characters because they fit so naturally into the series that you forgot they were disabled.
I'm beyond exhausted at the moment, so other than Garrett from the show I worked on I can't think of anyone else who has have appeared in every other show (except Brutto if ROUGHNECKS continued). I think you may be right about characters at the supporting level -- the Robbins and Renards of the animated universe -- but most do seem to be one shots, sometimes even in storylines where their disability is "repaired" by the end of the episode (such as an injury-created blindness that surgery or something else corrects), which usually seems a cop-out. IMNSHO.
And while I do like Renard, particularly as Fox's father, he is older than most of the characters we're talking about and from what Puck shows with his images in "Gathering Part Two," wasn't always in a chair, was he? (Again, beyond exhaustion, I might be wrong) It's a combination of age and illness, or at least that's the impression I've had. But then again, Robbins was blinded in Viet Nam and he's even younger. Showing ability with disability at all ages and stages of life -- and that it isn't always congenital -- is a good thing.
I have no clue why this is such a personal springboard for me, but I'm not embarrassed about it. I can tell you it predates my seizure disorder (circa 1992). On that note, I know that seizures are usually used to comic effect in film and TV and living it isn't funny to me. I close my eyes and let it be though. I'm not going to tell people what they can and can't do. I just don't have to like it.
(Now jumping off soapbox...)
Greg also wrote:
I also would love to do a hearing impaired animated character with Marlee Matlin doing the voice. She used to come into Rockets and I once had such a big crush on her that I swore that if she came in one more time, I'd ask her to marry me. (She must have sensed that cause she never came back.)
:) If you did the character as a lip-reader, it would probably work in limited animation. Sign language is a whole different ball of wax, though I do know I saw it done once as a kid (I want to say on DEFENDERS OF THE EARTH, but I am so tired right now). Christy Marx and I talked about this waaaay back when I first met her, though it's become public knowledge on the TRULY OUTRAGEOUS! JEM Mailing List over the years. Hasbro had Christy developing a JEM feature that never really went past treatment since the TRANSFORMERS and GI JOE movies did so poorly. They were going to have a deaf girl in that movie, which was integral to the plot. Later on, Christy had dinner with a woman who taught her there are many variants of sign language; ASA (American Sign Language) is just one of several so it might not be understood well in some markets that aren't familiar with ASA and thereby not translate internationally. Also the complexity of the hand gestures just might not come out right in limited animation. So she told me at that time she wasn't sure if it ultimately would have worked out it.
Solving those problems would be tremendously complex -- but worthwhile for a worthwhile character.