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Keep Safety and Access at the Forefront

When planning collaboration meetings to address efforts to end violence against people with disabilities, it’s important to account for potential safety and access needs of meeting participants. Members of your collaboration may have disabilities, which they may or may not disclose to the group. It’s also possible that members of the collaboration have past or current experiences of abuse. Ensuring that all members are able to safely and fully participate in meetings requires paying attention to safety and access concerns.

Safety

Throughout the work of the collaboration, be mindful of the safety of survivors, keeping in mind that any member may have experiences of domestic or sexual violence.

  • Discuss and reach an agreement about whether or not survivor’s personal information can be discussed on a limited basis at the collaboration level.
  • If it is decided information may be discussed, develop a confidentiality policy to ensure the confidentiality of survivors is maintained.
  • Create guidelines for maintaining the confidentiality of information shared during meetings, keeping in mind that anyone participating in a meeting could be a survivor of domestic or sexual violence.
  • Make support and other resources available to members when topics are discussed that may evoke an emotional response or trigger one’s past experience of abuse.
  • Ensure the meeting location is safe and well lit. Does it allow for confidential conversations?
  • Avoid victim blaming and violent language.

Access

Accessible meetings and events are planned with the needs of people with disabilities and Deaf people in mind. Ensuring accessibility should be an integral part of your meeting planning process. In addition, the planner should be prepared to provide reasonable accommodations to participants with disabilities and Deaf participants.

  • Choose locations that are accessible, including the parking lot, entrance, meeting room, hallways, restrooms.
  • Ensure the meeting room is accessible. Aisles should be at least 36 inches. Plan for the whole space to be accessible rather than having one area reserved for people with disabilities or Deaf participants, unless someone requests a reserved seat. People should be able to sit where and with whom they want.
  • Be prepared. Ask about accessibility needs in advance of the meeting. Give meeting attendees the opportunity to request accommodations and provide confirmations. Provide auxiliary aids if requested. Factor accommodations for meetings into your budget.
  • Provide universally accessible materials. For handouts, using contrasting colors and a sans-serif font in at least 14 pt size. Write in plain or simple language, meaning language that is easily understandable by most people and avoids jargon and unnecessarily complicated language. Caption any videos. Also be prepared to provide materials in Braille and large font size.
  • Be mindful of people’s needs when scheduling meetings. Give as much notice as possible. Avoid early mornings or after dark. Provide longer breaks and avoid longer meetings.