Measuring Organizational Capacity to Serve Survivors with Disabilities

In January of 2013, Vera partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women to develop a practical system that organizations working to improve their services for survivors with disabilities can use to track their progress. To that end, Vera has developed performance indicators—statistical references that present an overview of change in a given system—for disability agencies, domestic violence programs, and rape crisis centers to chart their progress toward improving services over time. Additionally, Vera is developing a detailed implementation guide to assist the staff of these agencies to implement the indicators. The user-friendly guide includes detailed instructions on what data needs to be collected, how and when that data should be collected, and how to calculate and interpret agency scores.

To develop the performance indicators, Vera staff members relied on the results of an extensive review of academic literature and practice materials on serving survivors with disabilities, their own expertise on disability and abuse, and the expertise of an advisory committee comprised of professionals who work to improve access to victim services for people with disabilities. During the summer of 2014, Vera piloted the indicator systems in ten communities across the country. In each community, a select group of victim services and disability agencies implemented the indicator system and provided feedback to Vera. Based on this feedback, Vera staff finalized the measurement system and accompanying implementation guide.

You can access the Measuring Capacity to Serve Survivors with Disabilities: Performance Indicators publication online.

Why This Work Matters

Despite being at elevated risk for domestic and sexual violence, people with disabilities and Deaf individuals are largely underserved by victim service providers. To close this gap, various efforts are underway in communities across the country to improve services and support for survivors with disabilities. However, no coordinated or uniform system exists for the agencies involved in these efforts to monitor their progress. Indicators are an important and practical tool that the staff of organizations can use to track their progress toward meeting goals over time; identify areas in which they are effective; and identify those in need of further development. This project aims to provide staff of disability organizations, domestic violence programs, and rape crisis centers with a tool to help measure and guide their progress towards improving their services for survivors with disabilities and Deaf survivors.