KCSDV’s Disabilities Project Impact
- October 15, 2020
- Posted by: Lucca Wang
- Categories: 2020, All News & Blog Posts
In 2014, KCSDV and the Self-Advocate Coalition of Kansas (SACK) came together through KCSDV’s Disabilities Project. KCSDV and SACK partnered on the Office on Violence Against Women Disabilities grant program and formed the Kansas Building and Expanding Leaders and Individuals, Experience the Vision of Empowerment (Kansas BELIEVE) Project. This project continues to have a great impact on Kansas communities by creating and making plain language resources and information more accessible for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have been sexual assaulted. This is especially significant in this time of increased isolation during the pandemic.
KCSDV and SACK’s first collaboration began in 2012 when both organizations recognized the need to address gaps and barriers in responses to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who are survivors of sexual violence.
With assistance from the Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Victimization and Safety, the Kansas BELIEVE team developed a vision and mission, conducted a needs assessment, and published a report.
Central to the vision and mission is Authentic Inclusion. Authentic Inclusion is defined by the Kansas BELIEVE team as a willingness of team members to learn from each other and not view self-advocates as tokens. It is about building trust with each other, making accommodations for all team members, and providing a chance for all team members to share their stories and ideas. This core value is shared throughout the project and has led to activities and materials that are inclusive and accessible. An equal voice, equitable partnership, and equal decision making belongs to all members of the Kansas BELIEVE team.
An objective of the Kansas BELIEVE Project is to build sustainable relationships between the sexual assault advocacy and the self-advocate movements.
The Kansas BELIEVE Project is currently helping local Kansas self-advocate chapters and local Kansas sexual assault programs use the model of Authentic Inclusion to build long-term collaborative partnerships and relationships in their communities. The goal is to improve how people with I/DD, who are survivors of sexual violence, access information, options, and services in their communities.
The Kansas BELIEVE team worked with sexual assault advocacy, self-advocate, and disabilities experts to develop a toolkit for self-advocates and a toolkit for sexual assault advocates.
Both toolkits address accommodations and guardianship. Accommodations and guardianship were two of the main gaps identified during the project needs assessment for sexual assault survivors. The toolkits were distributed to Kansas communities and were even shared nationally as a groundbreaking model project in 2019. The toolkits demonstrate the use of plain language, and the praise of the toolkits speak to their effective communication strategy. The toolkits are person-centered and focus on Authentic Inclusion and trauma-informed responses to sexual violence victims with I/DD.
The project is adapting its work because of COVID-19. People with I/DD already experience isolation from society, and the pandemic has made this isolation worse. When the world is relying more heavily on technology to communicate and interact, many people with I/DD are left behind. Information in plain language about the pandemic and how to stay safe and healthy is often not accessible for people with I/DD. Plain language resources on how to use technology are also not widely available.
People with I/DD who are survivors of sexual violence are even more isolated and vulnerable. Increasing access to technology and better providing information on how to use it increases people’s rights to autonomy, self-determination, and inclusion.
For more information about the Kansas BELIEVE Project, please contact KCSDV’s Disabilities Project Coordinator via http://kcsdv.org/contact.
This project was supported by Grant No. 2019-MU-AX-0021 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.
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