Disability and Mental Health Sensitivity Reader Services

Painted graffiti shows a man and a woman leaning in to kiss each other. They are both wheelchair users

When people open up your much-loved book, you want their focus to be on the arc of the storyline and the developed, relatable characters. If, however, you have a disabled reader who, desperate to feel a rare sense of recognition with a character with a disability, instead cringes at the way you treat or describe them, this will ruin their enjoyment of your book and could lead to negative reviews.

It could leave you wishing you hadn’t bothered to even try to introduce diverse characters. What’s the point if you’re only going to get criticised, right?

Asking a specialist with long-term, lived experience of living as a minority or part of an oppressed group, who also has a solid professional background in editing to read through you book and make open, encouraging but realistic feedback on the way you have treated your minority groups or characters (in this case, disability, but I also offer LGBTQIA Sensitivity Reader services, too) can help you to avoid any awkward faux pas or mistakes in the way you present people and issues.

This can mean your book launch will also go much more smoothly and the reviews you get will improve.

You may have one disabled character, or a major or minor storyline that may be about disability issues. In both cases, a disability Sensitivity Reader can help you to develop your manuscript so that it is good as it can be.

Do you represent every disabled person, ever?

It would be misleading to claim to have insider knowledge of cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, schizophrenia, and traumatic brain injury, because that would be untrue. I can’t have every health condition, use every mobility device and have experience of every form of health-related bureaucracy in the world.

However, I am in a position where I can give authentic advice, which includes my own opinions but also gives an overview of other popular views within the disability community.

What I do have is:

  • a broad-based understanding of a lot of issues of disability and health
  • the ability to research, and research hard
  • lived experience of a range of mental and physical impairments and conditions
  • personal knowledge and experience of people with different disabilities, both common and rare
  • experience of proofreading and editing everything from CVs to full-length books and I even proofread tattoos, so I combine my disability knowledge with my professional knowledge of the writing and editing world (writing and editing is my full-time job).

That’s an enviable list for many writers, who are relieved that somebody ticks all of their boxes!

Does a Disability Sensitivity Reader also edit for race, LGBT issues, class issues, etc.?

No. While I am a disabled woman and I am LGBTQ, I am also white and would never be able to do a good enough job representing women of colour. Even trying to do so would act as a disservice to everybody.

This is why hiring a handful of sensitivity readers can be the best way forward for many authors, to double-check the relevant issues for each oppressed group.

It is also worth pointing out that sensitivity reading does not preclude the need for an overall editor and a proofreader, each of whom have distinct and important roles to play. If you are also looking for line-by-line proofreading services, I am happy to combine that work for an additional fee.

My fees for Disability Sensitivity Editing services start at £8 per 1000 words. If you have characters who are LGBT and would like to add LGBT Sensitivity Editing to the package, the price for the two would start at £11 per 1000 words.

If you would like to hire me, or have a chat about how I can help you to develop your work, please get in touch. I would love to hear from you.