Not on the Radar: Sexual Assault of College Students with Disabilities

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Photo shows students’ backs as they walk on campus on a sidewalk. Two of the students are wearing backpacks and the student in the middle is using a power wheelchair.

January 30, 2018

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SUMMARY: NCD’s 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 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 on campus sexual assault. These findings are against the backdrop of a recent study by the Association of American Universities that revealed 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 a disability. 

SCOPE: NCD’s report seeks to better understand how colleges respond to, prevent, and support survivors of sexual assault who have disabilities. The findings and recommendations are the product of interviews with experts on sexual assault on college campuses, experts on sexual abuse against people with disabilities, college professionals and staff, Title IX coordinators, and sexual assault services administrators; as well as two national questionnaires that included college students with disabilities. Colleges that participated came from 14 states and the District of Columbia, 7 of 10 federal regions, 2-year and 4-year colleges, and both private and public.