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Disability Bitch hates 'awareness'

14th October 2009

Readers, I like to think I'm quite aware. I hope you're aware as well. As long as we're all aware, yeah? And no, I haven't lost the plot. It's just, I HATE DISABILITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS and I've had one too many of them shoved in my face lately. I'd rather like to spend a few hours in blissful ignorance, if that's OK with you.
Alastair Campbell

DB looks to Alastair Campbell for PR inspiration
Earlier this week I switched on the radio and discovered the nation talking about how difficult it is for people with autism to find employment, and how inaccessible the benefits system is for those who can't. My immediate thought was, 'Just autistic people? I experience those problems too and I'm spastic.'

It turned out the reportage was inspired by an an autism-specific charity who have launched a new campaign about that one impairment group. Lest they think I'm picking on them - I'm not, I'm really, really not - almost every impairment group, no matter how obscure, usually ends up with its own campaign or awareness day, week, or hour, during which news desks are deluged with press releases and journalists with nothing better to write about, spend five whole minutes being 'aware' of a certain impairment before moving on to the next one.

My complaint, readers, is that despite all this awareness-mongering among the unwashed masses, discrimination against disabled people still exists. I hate to break it to you, but disability is not a secret. The world at large is very aware of us. And still we are discriminated against. Oh dear.
Glossy magazines
Something's going wrong and I think I know what it is. It's this: disabled people need better PR. We don't need charities to clog up fax machines and email inboxes with press releases about how impossibly difficult our handicapped lives are. No one cares. We need to spin them a better story about disability. In some ways, LESS awareness is necessary.

Readers, I'm volunteering to help us out. Yes, like Alastair Campbell but different, I intend to become the first hard-bitten disability focused spin doctor this world has ever seen, and I'm going to work on behalf of disabled people everywhere.

I don't blinkin' want the world to be 'aware' of every nuance my impairment likes to dump on me. Christ alive, if employers knew everything there was to know about how screwed up I really am, I doubt anyone would dream of giving me a job, and all the charity campaigns in all the world wouldn't be able to help me. So I'm taking a new approach. Readers, I intend to start carefully worded yet partially truthful rumours about disabled people; rumours that will make people want to employ us and engage with us as human beings. Think of it as viral marketing for disableds.
First up, let's spread it that disabled people can park anywhere and it's always free. This is sort of true: several of us qualify for a blue badge and with a blue badge comes many a parking concession. There's a recession on and employers everywhere are looking to save money and improve efficiency. Imagine how overjoyed they'll be when they realise disabled employees waste less time driving round in circles looking for parking spaces and will never claim extortionate parking charges on expenses. That's half a million people off Incapacity Benefit and into employment right there.
Calculator money
Second rumour: disabled people are really, really good at admin. Think of it: the amount of time we spend filling in seventy-page benefit application forms and on the phone negotiating with the local council. These are top drawer transferable employment skills, people. Let's tell the world about them. Yeah, we're all great at all these things and never balls them up. You're an office clerk and a PA without even trying!
Third rumour: disabled people are great managers of budgets and of people. OK, I know some of us are as clueless as the Abled in this regard, but the thing is, the one thing everyone knows about disableds is that we're benefit scrounging scum. Let's spin it differently and turn that reputation to our advantage: from an early age, we've had experience of complex financial management, AKA keeping track of benefit payments. Many of us have employed and managed 'staff' - cleaners, carers, PAs and do so daily. Normals train for years to gain these skills; Disableds come ready-equipped with financial and people skills most university graduates can only dream of.

... oh yeah, and I'm gonna spread it that disabled people are really really good in bed as well but that's just a side interest that I won't bother you with.

Once people have it in their heads that we're good solid employees with built-in experience rather than whinging scrounging drains on resources who threaten to sue at every opportunity, we'll be able to milk disability to our advantage. Enough with these single issue general awareness campaigns targeted at no one in particular. They're pointless. You'll thank me when the job offers come rolling in.

MillsWatch

Heather's been very quiet this week but she knows a thing or two about PR and is always keen to help the disabled. Hev, when you've got a minute give me a shout. Perhaps you can help out with my viral marketing campaign.

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Social networking sites are the perfect place to start inventive and scurrilous rumours about disabled people. If you want to join in, become my friend here. 1600 people can't be wrong...

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