Rethinking Awareness – ArkAHEAD 2017

Presentation Description

Awareness activities can challenge stereotypical ideas about disability or can serve to maintain the status quo. We’ll look at some potential ideas for awareness activities that represent disability as an aspect of diversity and promote access as a civil right.


Typical Awareness Activities

  • Focus solely on compliance
  • Focus on specific disabilities and their implications
  • Attempt to simulate disability
  • Focus on etiquette or sensitivity

The Problem

What messages does this send?

  • We are including people with disabilities because we have to.
  • People with disabilities are complex and require lots of study to understand them.
  • Having a disability is very hard!
  • Disabled people are very different from nondisabled people and require special rules for engagement.

A Possible Solution

Let’s change the way we provide outreach and programming.

  • Challenge stereotypical thinking about disability.
  • Relocate the problem of disability in the environment.
  • Promote disability as an aspect of diversity.
  • Emphasize disability access as a civil right, a matter of social justice.

Further reading on this and related topics can be found on the Refocus Site

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This presentation and the resources provided have been developed with support from a grant from the the Southwest ADA Center, a program of ILRU (Independent Living Research Utilization), at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston, Texas. Permission to utilize these resources granted by the Southwest ADA Center, the Southwest ADA Center Affiliate – Arkansas, University of Arkansas Partners for Inclusive Communities, University of Arkansas CURRENTS and the author. Permission is contingent upon remaining faithful to the content and providing credit. A citation slide is included with each presentation and the contents of that credit can be viewed at the bottom of each module.