No one organization offers all the services survivors with disabilities need in the aftermath of violence or possesses all the expertise needed to provide those services in a way that is safe and accessible. There is little chance that funding is forthcoming to create the type of organization that could handle the full range of services. That’s why victim services and disability organizations are forging collaborations across the country – more than 60 exist, at last count. Collaboration offers a promising and sustainable strategy to address the gaps faced by survivors with disabilities. It allows organizations to expand their understanding of survivors’ needs and combine their resources to create a system of services that is more complete, integrated, and better meets the needs of survivors with disabilities.
What Can Be Achieved
Collaborative programs have conducted reviews to increase the accessibility and safety of their partner organizations; implemented screening tools in disability organizations to identify survivors; created policies and procedures within victim services to discover and address the accommodation needs of people with disabilities; and launched comprehensive training programs to ensure staff have the necessary knowledge and skills to work at the intersection of violence and disability. They have also developed interagency agreements on confidentiality and information sharing, liaison systems, cross-disciplinary case reviews, and other models of co-advocacy to enhance the way disability and victim services work together to better serve these survivors. Survivors with disabilities who have historically only encountered barriers when they sought help are now finding support and resources. No matter where they first reach out, they receive immediate crisis intervention and long-term support that is safe, accessible, and responsive to their needs.