In the second Criptiques Podcast, guest Cheryl Green hilariously dismantles a staple of the disability community … “raising awareness”. She rightly skewers the ill-defined goals and bizarre stunts people think up in the name of promoting “disability awareness”.
I think that a lot of disabled people, themselves, rally around "raising awareness" because "awareness" to them means an ideal situation in which they wouldn't have to explain their disabilities to people anymore. When we someday achieve the desired state of “disability awareness”, people will just know what's up with our disabilities, and will correctly anticipate our needs. More importantly, they won’t misunderstand us anymore. They won’t assume we are drunk, drugged, mentally impaired, sad, incompetent, narrow, self-centered, awkward, boring, unpredictable, angry, bitter, or angelic anymore … just because we bear markers of some disability or other.
One problem with this is that it's impossible for everyone to become fully aware of every disability. At best, we might hope for broad understanding of a few basic concepts about all disabilities. If awareness efforts aim for something like that, then I'm all for it. But most "awareness" campaigns focus on specific disabilities or diagnoses, which is both too narrow and too ambitious. Or, the goals are so vague that the word “awareness” itself loses all meaning.