Through Crisis and Complexity: Using Plain Language to Enhance Trauma-Informed Practices

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Plain language is a style of writing that is meant to be accessible to many people, especially people with intellectual disabilities. In this webinar, we will discuss plain language and its importance to survivors with disabilities and survivors in crisis.

Together we will explore how plain language impacts trauma-informed practices and survivor outcomes. We will focus on strategies for communicating using plain language, with examples and time for practice. Lastly, we will explore tools to check for plain language within written documents. Join this interactive and practical webinar presented by Aquia Pusch from Activating Change.

The Fundamentals of Language Access Planning for Deaf People

Deaf woman seated wearing a mask speaking to a female sign language interpreter

Research on victimization within the Deaf Community suggests that Deaf individuals living in the United States have higher levels of domestic and sexual victimization than their hearing counterparts. Despite these higher rates of domestic and sexual violence, Deaf survivors face barriers that prevent them from getting help. Language access planning is a solution designed to remove the barriers that Deaf survivors face and ensure that they receive culturally responsive services.

This webinar is designed for victim service providers and allied professionals and will provide an overview of how to create a language access plan specifically for Deaf survivors or to expand the plan your organization already has in place to include Deaf survivors. We will outline a process you can use in your organization to create this plan along with key questions for you to consider as you develop a plan tailored to your organization’s and your community’s specific needs. We will also discuss practical strategies to help your organization remove the barriers that Deaf victims and survivors routinely face when accessing services and help you to create more accessible and culturally responsive services. We will also showcase and make available a new resource, “Developing A Language Access Plan to Serve Deaf Survivors,” which is a robust guidebook outlining exactly what your language access plan should entail, and how to successfully implement it in your organization.

Recognizing Mental Health Concerns Co-occurring With DVSA

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There is a deep and tangled connection between the trauma of domestic and sexual violence and mental health disabilities. In this webinar, we will untangle this connection while providing practical answers to supporting survivors with mental health concerns. We will focus on the impacts of mental health disabilities alone, and then take a closer look at the impact of trauma on these disabilities. Together we will discuss how to adapt trauma-informed practices to meet the needs of survivors with mental health disabilities.

Join this exciting webinar, presented by MeLisa Dennis, a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor with extensive experience providing mental health and domestic violence services.

Neurobiology of Trauma in People with Disabilities

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Research consistently demonstrates that people with developmental disabilities are at increased risk for adverse life events, abuse, and trauma. Yet, little has been done to understand how trauma impacts the neurobiology of people with developmental disabilities despite there being body of research and practice dedicated to understanding the impact of trauma on the brain and nervous system.

During this webinar, Dr. Frederika Theus – a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating people with developmental disabilities – will discuss how to adapt trauma-informed practices to meet the needs of survivors with developmental disabilities. She will contrast what is known about the neurobiology and impacts of trauma in people without disabilities and people with developmental disabilities. She will explore the implications of using a trauma-informed approach with people with developmental disabilities and provide practical suggestions for how to adapt trauma-informed responses to better meet the needs of these survivors.

Nothing About Us Without Us: Centering the Movement Around Self-Advocates

Nothing about us without us is a common phrase used in the disability rights movement to mean nothing should be created for a community without the meaningful participation of that community. Self-advocates have been leaders in the disability rights movement for years and are increasingly expanding their work in the survivor advocacy field. They have the wisdom and life experience to know how to dismantle ableism and best support victims of crime with disabilities, if only we listen.   

This webinar, aimed at survivor advocacy organizations and disability service providers, will provide an overview of the participation of self-advocates at the intersection of violence and disability. The self-advocates on the panel will discuss the essential role self-advocate leaders must play if we want to end gender-based violence. Join us for this engaging conversation with Cindy Bentley, facilitated by Leah Green. 

Photo of Cindy Bently of People First Wisconsin. Cindy is a Black woman with a short gray afro smiling at the camera. Photo of Leah Green of Activating Change. Leah is a white woman with glasses and short curly dark hair.
Webinar Panelists


Understanding Violence in the Lives of Deaf People

Black woman with short natural hair wearing a t-shirt that says "No Homophobia, No Violence, No Racism, It's Kindness, Yes to Love"

Domestic and sexual violence impact members of the Deaf community at high rates.  Yet, many service providers are not prepared to address the needs of this community.  Specifically designed for professionals working in domestic violence and sexual assault programs, law enforcement, and healthcare settings, this webinar will provide invaluable insights into the unique challenges experienced by Deaf survivors and strategies for better serving this community.

Join us for this informative and engaging presentation by DeAnna Swope, Senior Program Associate from Activating Change, and Roberta Eaton, Executive Director of Deaf DAWN.

Understanding Violence in the Lives of People with Disabilities: The Impact of Racism and Ableism

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Research has shown that some people with disabilities experience an increased risk of domestic and sexual violence compared to people without disabilities and that those who do experience such violence reported a larger number of perpetrators and a greater duration of violence. When survivors with disabilities reach out for healing services, they often face barriers and ineffective assistance. The causes of these high rates of violence and the barriers faced by survivors with disabilities are rooted in systemic oppression. This webinar will explore domestic and sexual violence in the lives of people with disabilities and how our society creates the conditions for abuse in this community. In particular, our presenters will discuss how racism and ableism intertwine to marginalize and dehumanize people with disabilities. The webinar will provide foundational information we will build on throughout the year as we continue to explore some of the particular areas of interest at the intersection of violence and disability.

Join us for this insightful webinar, as our guest Cierra Olivia Thomas Williams, and Olga Trujillo, Director of Leadership Development and Collective Healing with Activating Change explore the unique dynamics of violence in the lives of people with disabilities. This will include a focus on what you can do to help make your program and community more accessible.

The full webinar and reference materials are available in our resources.

Trafficking in the Lives of People with Disabilities

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The U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report from 2012 states that “[P]ersons with disabilities remain one of the groups most at risk of being trafficked.”

Join us for our January webinar on Trafficking in the Lives of People with Disabilities to learn more about survivors with disabilities and Deaf survivors. We will be discussing how often and the common ways people with disabilities are trafficked, as well as the conditions that place people with disabilities at greater risk. We will also discuss the common barriers trafficked survivors face and how you can work to remove those barriers.

Informational Webinar – Sign Language Interpretation Service

photo of a white woman seated at desk signing on a laptop in a green and white polka dot shirt

Each year, Deaf survivors/victims – especially those from communities of color – experience significant and persistent communication, cultural and other barriers to accessing hearing victim services. One of the greatest factors contributing to these barriers is the lack of qualified, trauma-informed sign language interpretation available to Deaf survivors. The lack of sign language interpretation in victim services for Deaf Survivors is an ongoing barrier out there, and directly because of that deaf survivors are unable to access hearing programs and systems.

Activating Change’s initiative, Sign Language Interpreting Service for Deaf Victims, addresses this gap by providing qualified, trauma-informed remote sign language interpretation services – using safe and secure technology – free of charge to victim service providers serving Deaf victims of crime. At this webinar, AC staff – Esther Fass and Nancy Smith – will provide an overview of the project, how to apply, and important dates. In addition, participants will be able to ask questions about participating in the project.

Hearing Advocates in Deaf Justice: Reflections on Allyship

Diverse group of hearing, Deaf, and Deafblind people sitting in a circle talking with ASL, protactile sign language, and English

Nearly 71% of the United States does not have “for Deaf, by Deaf” advocacy services available to Deaf survivors of domestic and sexual violence and communication and cultural barriers commonly exist in hearing domestic and sexual violence programs for Deaf survivors. As a result, many Deaf survivors have nowhere to turn for help. To close these gaps, hearing allies must join with Deaf communities to advocate for change.

This webinar features two hearing allies who are working closely with and in Deaf communities – Amber Hodson, Empowerment Director at DeafHope and Nancy Smith, Executive Director of Activating Change – in conversation with Liam Esposito, a Deaf Project Director at Activating Change. We will explore their journeys toward allyship, including how they got started, the principles that guide their allyship, and practical suggestions other hearing advocates can take. Importantly, we will also discuss the importance of recognizing their own privilege and leveraging that privilege – which include access to information, funding, and connections to policymakers and funders – to support Deaf advocates and Deaf advocacy.

Join us for this conversation to get started on the path to allyship.