A country committed to preventing violence against people with disabilities, and capable of responding effectively, and with dignity, when violence and abuse does occur.
To end abuse of people with disabilities and to promote:
- prevention efforts that address the root causes of violence including the devaluation of people with disabilities in our society, racism and other forms of oppression,
- practices that are accessible and support survivors with disabilities and their communities heal from violence, and
- accountability strategies for the people responsible for this violence that are effective, equitable, and restorative.
Achieving Our Mission
We are advancing our mission by:
- Building Movements: We are building a movement at the intersection of disability justice, Deaf advocacy, racial equity, and anti-violence.
- Cultivating Leaders: We support the leadership of people with disabilities and Deaf people in anti-violence work and amplify their voices.
- Supporting Organizations: We strengthen the capacity of organizations working at the intersections to sustain and scale their work. We also help anti-violence organizations become more accessible and disability organizations become more healing-informed.
- Leveraging Resources: We regrant money to organizations that center survivors with disabilities and Deaf survivors and help them build capacity to get future grants. We also work with public and private funders to address funding inequities and to adopt more accessible and equitable grantmaking practices.
- Advocating for Change: We advocate for policies and practices that promote autonomy, self-determination, sexual rights, and the well-being of people with disabilities and Deaf people.
Building a Network of Advocates at the Intersection
Through the Accessing Safety Initiative, we support a network of Federally-funded communities that are working to improve services for survivors with disabilities and Deaf survivors. In each community, we bring together disability advocates and advocates for survivors of crime to forge a form collaboration. We provide these collaborations with training and guidance to build their collective and individual capacity to work effectively at the unique intersection of disability justice and survivor advocacy. We guide these collaborations through a structured process to develop and implement solutions to the biggest issues facing survivors with disabilities and Deaf survivors in their community. Currently, this network is active in more than 130 communities across the country.
Supporting Deaf-Led Survivor Advocacy
Through Deaf Action, together in authentic partnership with advocates at DeafHope, we are working to support, sustain, and grow Deaf-led survivor advocacy programs. We help build the capacity of “for Deaf, by Deaf” groups and organizations. We provide support on everything from becoming a non-profit organization to grants management to dismantling racial inequities to implementing transformative justice in Deaf communities. This project is first-of-its-kind for many reasons, including that all of the support we offer is provided in sign language by Deaf and DeafBlind experts.
Strengthening Capacity to Address Violence and Abuse of People with Disabilities and Deaf People
Through the National Center on Ending Abuse of People with Disabilities, we provide training and expert guidance to raise awareness about the needs of survivors with disabilities and build capacity to respond effectively. We help anti-violence organizations, particularly programs that address domestic and sexual violence, become more accessible and transform their services to better serve survivors with disabilities and Deaf survivors. We help these organizations incorporate a disability lens to their work and build capacity around access and inclusion. We also work with disability organizations to help them become more survivor-centered. Finally, we help other organizations and systems involved in the lives of survivors with disabilities ensure their responses are equitable, accessible, and inclusive.
Uniting to End Violence Against People with Disabilities National Coalition
The Uniting to End Violence Against People with Disabilities National Coalition is working to end violence in the lives of people with disabilities. The Coalition uses a two-prong approach: (1) amplifying the voices of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) with disabilities and (2) dismantling racism and ableism. The Coalition is led by a Leadership Circle of BIPOC survivors with disabilities and receives infrastructure support from the Center on Victimization and Safety at the Vera Institute of Justice.
Supporting Crime Victims with Disabilities
In partnership with the Arc, the National Children’s Advocacy Center, the National Sheriff’s Association, and the National Center for Victims of Crime, we launched the Supporting Crime Victims with Disabilities Toolkit. This toolkit was designed to provide comprehensive and culturally responsive informational and educational resources, tools, videos, and examples of best practices for law enforcement, forensic interviewers, victim advocates, and others to prepare them to effectively respond to victims of crime with disabilities across the lifespan. Leveraging the guidance and expertise of representatives from these fields, the toolkit embodies ideals of intersectionality, accessibility, and usability among others. The toolkit includes video testimonials from survivors with disabilities, recorded lectures from professionals across a variety of systems, and interactive activities.
The National Resource Center for Reaching Victims
The National Resource Center for Reaching Victims (NRC) is a clearinghouse for victim service providers, culturally specific organizations, criminal justice professionals, and policymakers to get information and expert guidance to enhance their capacity to identify, reach, and serve all victims, especially those from communities that are underrepresented in healing services and avenues to justice. We coordinated the NRC’s work to improve the crime victim services field’s capacity to serve crime survivors with disabilities and Deaf survivors. We brought together experts at the intersection of disability, Deaf communities, and victimization to provide expert guidance and develop resources to enhance the capacity of victim service providers, policy makers, and legal professionals to identify, reach, and serve victims with disabilities and Deaf victims. As part of this work, we created Just Ask: A Toolkit to Help Advocates, Attorneys, and Law Enforcement Meet the Needs of Crime Victims with Disabilities, which lays out four simple steps for asking about and providing accommodations to survivors with disabilities. Additionally, we convened some of the country’s leading experts in supporting Deaf and DeafBlind survivors to create the Supporting Deaf & DeafBlind Survivors video series to answer the field’s most pressing questions about how to support survivors from these communities and best practices for finding and working with qualified interpreters. We also provided trainings to government agencies that fund victim service organizations. We continue to respond to requests for expert guidance on supporting crime victims with disabilities and Deaf crime victims.
Measuring Organizational Capacity to Serve Survivors with Disabilities and Deaf Survivors
In partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, we developed an online and practical assessment tool that organizations can use to identify their strengths and barriers to effectively serving survivors with disabilities and Deaf survivors working and to track their progress making improvements. The assessment uses performance indicators to allow disability agencies, domestic violence programs, and rape crisis centers to measure themselves against field standards for serving survivors with disabilities and Deaf survivors. Conducting the assessment in an organization requires no previous experience or specialized training in evaluation, and it uses information organizations likely already have available.
Supporting the Leadership of Self-Advocates in Efforts to Address Violence
Individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities are among the most marginalized populations in our country and are subjected to high rates of violence and abuse. We are committed to supporting the leadership of self-advocates in the survivor advocacy movement. To that end, in collaboration with self-advocates from across the country, we launched the Self-Advocate Leadership Academy (SALA) program. The goals of the SALA program are to develop a national pool of self-advocate trainers; to increase the number of self-advocates who can provide peer support to survivors with intellectual/developmental disabilities; and to increase the number of self-advocates participating in efforts to address violence against people with disabilities. The program includes an in-person “train-the-trainer” training and an in-person curriculm to train self-advocates on peer support.
Preventing Sexual Abuse of Children with Disabilities
We launched an initiative to ensure that efforts to address sexual abuse of children are inclusive of children with disabilities. In the first phase of the project, we sought to learn more about the factors that contribute to sexual abuse of children with disabilities and to determine what can be done to prevent it, as well as recommend holistic responses that involve victim services, disability services, law enforcement, police, schools, and community members. We conducted a literature review and informational interviews, and convened a national roundtable discussion on the topic. We engaged experts from a wide variety of backgrounds: people with disabilities, parents of children with disabilities, advocates for children with disabilities, advocates for survivors of child abuse, law enforcement personnel, and other professionals who support children with disabilities. We published the findings from this analysis in a research and policy brief entitled Sexual Abuse of Children with Disabilities: A National Snapshot. We also convened a National Working Group comprised of public and private funders, government officials, policymakers and practitioners in the fields of child advocacy, sexual assault, disability, and sex offender management; criminal justice system personnel; and people with disabilities and their family members to create a blueprint for a national strategy to address sexual abuse of children with disabilities. The blueprint outlines policy and practice recommendations to ensure our country’s prevention, intervention, and accountability efforts better account for the realities and unique needs of children with disabilities.