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College students with disabilities are more likely to be sexually assaulted than non-disabled students. The National Council on Disability (NCD) study on this topic was the first of its kind; past studies by federal agencies and task forces did not include disability as a demographic category. This left a gap—and it turns out a significant one—in our knowledge about sexual assault on college campuses. About one in three college women with disabilities report having been sexually assaulted (31.6%)—that means nearly half a million women—compared to about one in five non-disabled college women (18.4%).

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Being excluded from research and grant programs on campus sexual assault is just one more way in which citizens with disabilities in this country are made invisible. And the consequences compound: colleges lack policies and procedures to ensure disability-related supports; campus assault prevention and education programs are not inclusive of students with disabilities; many schools make no mention of accommodations on their Title IX websites, which should include vital information to students regarding sexual assault policies of schools; and there is  often little to no collaboration between campus organizations for students with disabilities and sexual violence survivor groups, limiting opportunities for cultural competence and increased awareness. 

It is time for that to change. NCD’s report made a series of recommendations to help increase inclusivity, including that funding and research organizations include disability as a demographic category, that campuses work to improve policies and services for people with disabilities, and that campus security and law enforcement training include protocols about helping people in crisis who also have disabilities such as deafness. One of the most powerful aspects of the #metoo movement is the aspect of shared experience. But when people with disabilities are forgotten about, they are prevented from taking part in that shared experience. Insofar as awareness is one of the first steps in achieving equality, NCD’s study will hopefully get us just a little bit closer to a world where people with mental and physical disabilities are not further disabled by a lack of services, an abundance of misconception, and invisibility.

The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. Nothing on this blog is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney. If you need legal advice, please consult with an attorney like those at the California Civil Rights Law Group.

If you think you experienced sexual harassment, race-based discrimination, retaliation, or other illegal treatment in your work place, reach out to one of our San Francisco Bay Area attorneys with expertise in these issues. No two situations are alike, but with offices in Oakland, San Francisco, and San Anselmo, our employment discrimination attorneys make it easy to have a confidential consultation on any potential civil rights violations that you may be facing.