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Accessibility is a key feature of inclusive, empowering coalition events such as trainings or membership meetings. To interrupt the silence of sexual violence, we must ensure that all people are engaged and respected. To address the oppression of people with disabilities, we must train ourselves to be proactive in thinking about the needs of participants with varying abilities. This ReShape contains resources on building accessible events for your state/territorial coalition.

One in five Americans has some type of disability, according to the US Census Bureau. Disability can be broadly defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of a person. It is a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body/mind and features of the society in which they live. In this way, disability can be thought as the barriers the world presents or doesn’t. If all buildings are fully accessible, for example, the need to use a wheelchair is no longer a disability. Overcoming the difficulties faced by people with disabilities requires interventions to remove environmental and social barriers.

Many people who have bodies or minds that differ from dominant culture definitions of “normal” may not identify as having a disability. Whether or not people need additional assistance around access, they should not have to disclose whether or not they have a disability or how they define their abilities. At the same time, when we plan events, it makes sense to do so with the assumption that 20% of our audience will have accessibility needs. That premise is the core of universal design, a concept that makes products, buildings, policies, communication, information and programs inherently accessible and inclusive to the largest array of people possible. Universal design increases the confidence, comfort, and control of participants, and in trainings, provides an educational setting with little to no barriers to fully engaged learning.

In this issue of ReShape:

  • Designing Accessible Events for People with Disabilities and Deaf Individuals: Registration Tip Sheet
  • Designing Accessible Events for People with Disabilities and Deaf Individuals: Budgeting for Access Tip Sheet
  • VERA Institute for Justice Resource Packet
  • and more!