Bob Pedersen, over at T Minus Two http://tminustwo.net, posted a thoughtful essay on awareness, using asthma as an example. It's definitely worth a read.
I have a couple of thoughts on awareness, too. The first is, that healthy people need to become aware that others are struggling with diseases and disabilities that are invisible.
We, as a society, have indeed, made some progress on making buildings more accessible to those in wheelchairs, for example. I remember seeing a lot of ads a long time ago, showing a person in a wheelchair sitting there, looking at a flight of stairs, which is an immediate and visual way of communicating the problem.
An asthmatic with an inhaler is also very visual, and an ad of someone gasping desperately for breath would be very easily understood as well. People with asthma can and do participate in sports (some people's asthma is triggered by exertion) by using the appropriate meds, (Jackie Joyner Kersee is the star example), but still, it can be life-threatening, and they are faced with the same double-sided sword as we are -- do you portray them as capable of doing what everyone else can do? Or do you portray them as suffering and taking meds for a life-threatening condition? Or, third option, do you take the forethought to portray what they are doing successfully, but clearly include the things they have to do to keep themselves alive and comfortable? And the balancing act between current and future side effects, and being comfortable now?
Can you see the parallels between asthma and diabetes? If the public were aware of how much work those successful athletes and celebrities put into controlling their diabetes while appearing "normal" during their performances, there might be more awareness of the struggle. It would also be nice to see people with diabetes who are doing impressive things in spite of complications. I think that would be a good way to let the public see both sides of the diabetes story -- the very real successes and interesting lives that people with diabetes live, and the efforts and work and difficulties that accompany them.
And of course, with diabetes, the awareness needs to include knowing the signs and symptoms of onset, and for those who are diagnosed, learning how to manage it successfully, but that's kind of another topic.