March 12, 2018
Washington, DC – The National Council on Disability (NCD) – a nonpartisan, independent federal advisory body – applauds the introduction of the Safe Equitable Campus Resources and Education (SECuRE) Act, bicameral legislation intended to address many of the systemic failures brought to light in NCD’s recent report, Not on the Radar: Sexual Assault of College Students with Disabilities.
“It is such a gratifying experience to see policymakers act on the Council’s policy findings and recommendations so expeditiously. We commend the leadership of Senator Casey, Senator Hassan and Congresswoman Dingell for moving swiftly to draft legislation to address several of the troubling findings in the report,” said Wendy Harbour, NCD Council Member and Director of the National Center for College Students with Disabilities, based at the Association on Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD).
NCD’s recently released study found that students with disabilities are not “on the radar” of colleges in their sexual assault prevention efforts, policies, or procedures for response and support after an assault. This includes the absence of procedures to communicate with victims who are Deaf or hard of hearing, and physically inaccessible support services for students with mobility disabilities. Similarly, NCD’s study found that students with disabilities are invisible in federal research and grant programs related to campus sexual assault. This is all against the backdrop of a study by the Association of American Universities revealing that 31.6 percent of undergraduate females with disabilities reported nonconsensual sexual contact involving physical force or incapacitation, compared to 18.4 percent of undergraduate females without disabilities.
The SECuRE Act puts students with disabilities on the radar of colleges and universities which, for the first time, will be required to report the number of incidents of sexual assault involving a victim with a disability, who face a higher rate of sexual assault than nondisabled students. In addition, the bill addresses many of the information gaps identified in NCD’s report. Specifically, the legislation requires:
- Colleges and Universities must include how many of the reported sex offenses, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking incidents involved victim who is a person with a disability.
- Emergency response and evacuation procedures take into account the needs of students and staff with disabilities.
- Materials, reports and information required under the Clery Act must be available in accessible formats.
- the risk reduction component of prevention and awareness programs must include abuse targeting individuals with disabilities.
- Campus security personnel and other individuals responsible for providing information and resources related to campus safety and sexual assault must receive training about working with individuals with disabilities
- Procedures for disciplinary action must be accessible, including to those who are blind, deaf, or have cognitive, intellectual or communication disabilities.
- Officials conducting such proceedings must receive annual training on how to conduct investigative and hearings processes where the victim is a person with a disability
- Both the accuser and accused in such a proceeding is entitled to accommodations, including interpreters or other individual providing communication assistance services in addition to an advisor of their choice.
- Required notices must be accompanied by information proactively informing all students how to request an accommodation and what accommodations are available, in case they have not yet identified as having a disability or are not yet registered with a disability services office on campus.
- Campus policies must include information about available accommodations for individuals with disabilities with respect to programs provided under the Clery Act and how individuals can request such accommodations.
NCD commends Senators Casey and Hassan and Congresswoman Dingell for introducing this important legislation. NCD looks forward to working with these and other offices and agencies to see that students with disabilities on college campuses are included in the national conversation about how to prevent and respond to sexual assault, and that they have the sexual assault resources and support they need for themselves and for peers on campus.
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