Accessibility typically refers to all the ways in which organizations work to accommodate the needs of people from a variety of backgrounds, abilities and learning styles.
Ideally, accessibility means having a place, environment, or event that is set up from the start to be accessible to all individuals. This may require considering strategies to address actual and potential barriers. Strategies can include ensuring spaces are physically accessible by those who use a wheelchair or other mobility aids; washrooms that are both physically accessible and designated as gender neutral; accommodations and programming initiatives for students with disabilities and ongoing medical conditions; offering learning materials in multiple formats and languages; using plain language; ensuring representation of diverse access needs in training materials; support for childcare; and providing honoraria and secondment options.
- Information about upcoming workshops and webinars on healthy relationships includes information about where learners can request accommodations, such as large font materials, image captions, childcare, or transportation support.
- A digital social marketing campaign is implemented in multiple languages to reach all members of the campus
- Curriculum for a bystander intervention workshop is developed using principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to
help accommodate learning and other access differences.
- An online course includes images of people with disabilities engaged in their communities.
- Workshop organizers provide childcare options so that parents and caregivers have the opportunity to participate.
2. Culturally Located
Culture is the complex phenomenon that includes the ever-evolving worldviews, knowledge, values, traditions, beliefs, capabilities, and social and political relationships of a group of people that give meaning to and influence their life and
actions. SV training resources need to work to recognize and incorporate diverse cultural identities and to value the knowledge and experience participants bring into the learning environment. To achieve being culturally located, nothing should be presented as culturally neutral; Western/European approaches, values, and worldviews should be identified and named as such, as well as those from other cultures. While an individual’s culture should be recognized and valued, it’s important to remember that everyone is a culturally located individual rather than solely a member of a homogeneous group.
- International students and staff and faculty who work with them are consulted in developing orientation materials about safety and well-being on campus.
- Training for facilitators of a healthy relationship workshop invites individuals who are members of a majority or dominant culture to examine and acknowledge the role of their own culture in influencing interactions or perceptions related to topics such as dating, boundaries, and communicating consent.
- Identifying binary approaches to gender as a manifestation of European practices of patriarchy as opposed to being universal.
3. Decolonial Approach
Decolonization involves valuing and revitalizing Indigenous knowledge and approaches and addressing the impact of past and ongoing colonization on Indigenous ways of being.
In PSIs, this work can include creating spaces that are inclusive and respectful and honour Indigenous knowledge, ways of knowing, and approaches. It may include integrating curriculum on topics such as land dispossession, historic and contemporary treaty relationships, and the role of colonization in perpetuating sexual violence. For non-Indigenous people, decolonization may include the process of examining colonial beliefs about Indigenous Nations and culture and working to dismantle them through learning about their relationships to the communities where they live and the people with whom they interact.
Decolonial approaches to SV can include acknowledging the impact of colonization in causing sexual violence in Indigenous communities, working to dispel stereotypes, and highlighting the resiliency and capacity of Indigenous peoples and communities to resist and overcome violence.
- Written and online resources include a recognition of the territory they were created on. In-person training recognizes the territory it takes place on.
- PSIs develop relationships with Indigenous peoples on and off campus to develop culturally grounded ways of integrating Indigenous knowledge, local histories and teaching methods in their curriculum.
- Curriculum discusses how Indigenous women, girls, and two spirit people have been and continue to be made vulnerable and disproportionately targeted by sexualized violence as a mechanism of colonization, e.g., the connection between gender-based violence and relationship with land and resource extraction, the intergenerational impact of residential schools, and past and ongoing colonization.
- A sexual violence prevention workshop that includes a section on healthy relationships makes connections between consent and colonization.
Evidence-informed practice brings together lived experience and diverse expertise with the best available evidence from research. It means using evidence to identify the potential benefits, harms and costs of any intervention and also acknowledging that what works in one context may not be appropriate or feasible in another.
Evidence-informed practice acknowledges that evidence and research will change over time and, as a result, best practices cannot remain static.
Elements required for effective SV training resources include: comprehensiveness, community engagement, theory-driven programming, contextualized programming, and evaluation. Other practices can include recognizing the experience and knowledge of grassroots student groups, decolonizing approaches to SV, and reflection on moral/ethical issues related to initiatives and activities.
- Evidence from a range of sources is used to develop a training program, including expertise from a campus group that has run the program before, evaluation findings from a community organization that has run a similar program before, Indigenous perspectives, and a synthesis of academic research.
- Training that supports faculty and staff in responding to disclosures is based on best practices in the academic literature and delivered in a way that takes into account the capacity of the individual, on-campus organizations and the local community.
It is important to understand and acknowledge the gendered nature of SV and to bring a gender-based analysis to the development of training and resources. At the same time, SV training and resources must create capacity to understand experiences of SV across the gender spectrum, recognizing that anyone can cause, experience, or mitigate harm related to SV.
This means recognizing how different aspects of gender, such as gender identity and gender expression, results in certain groups of people being more likely to perpetrate or be targets of SV. Gender also interacts with factors like race, ethnicity, age, and ability (see Intersectionality in the next section) to influence access to resources for recovery and healing.
SV training and resources benefit from being inclusive of and responsive to the varied needs of women, men, and gender diverse people.
- Services, training, and resources are available to everyone in the campus community, regardless of their gender.
- Resources on where to access supports on campus use language that is inclusive of a full continuum of gender identities.
- Establishing programming (in partnership with community centres, organizations, etc.) that considers the lived realities and impacts of SV on those who identify as LGBTQ2S+.
Intersectionality promotes an understanding of people as shaped by the interactions of different social locations or categories ― for example, race, ethnicity, Indigeneity, gender, class, sexuality, geography, age, ability, migration status, and religion.
When applied to SV training resources, intersectionality can help increase understanding of how certain populations face increased risks of perpetrating SV and others face increased risks of being targeted by it. It also highlights how different groups of people experience systemic barriers to disclosing and accessing support services. It can also help ensure that responses to SV are attentive to and reflective of the diverse needs of campus communities.
- A small group, in-person workshop includes reflection activities that ask people to reflect on their own identity and their experiences of SV.
- Website provides statistics on SV and discusses how certain groups of people experience higher rates of perpetrating SV and others face higher rates of being targeted by SV and how this relates to discrimination they may face.
- Use of reflexivity or double loop learning (practice, reflection, adaptation, implementation, repeat).
Survivor-centred approaches are grounded in the lived experiences of survivors of sexual violence and misconduct. Being survivor-centred means prioritizing the rights, needs, and wishes of survivors in all processes and responses to SV.
Ways that this might be reflected in training resources include: challenging victim-blaming attitudes; working to create a supportive learning environment that assumes that survivors are present; and ensuring that training initiatives and resources include the input and experiences of survivors.
- All training resources reinforce the message that SV is not the survivor’s fault.
- Online and printed resources include comprehensive information to help individuals make their own decisions, e.g., reporting options, sharing information, and requesting accommodations.
- Training emphasizes survivor choice and control, self-determination, and empowerment after an incident of SV.
Trauma-informed practice is about developing approaches to training resources that avoid re-traumatizing people and place priority on their safety, choice, and control. Trauma-informed practice also includes an understanding of the social, systemic, and structural roots of violence and trauma.
Trauma-informed practice works from the perspective of “universal precautions” or assuming any learners may have past or current experiences of trauma and violence and responding accordingly. Strategies can range from providing welcoming physical spaces to providing choices about how to engage with learning materials to opportunities for learning wellness skills.
- Training for individuals who respond to disclosures includes knowledge about burnout and vicarious trauma as well as strategies for self- and community care.
- Learners are provided with content warnings and clear explanations about procedures and policies to help build trust and safety.
- Sexual violence prevention workshops include a focus on skill-building to build resilience and empowerment.
- Train-the-trainer courses provide an overview of how to integrate trauma-informed practice principles into classroom settings, e.g., being able to identify an “in-the-moment” trauma response and strategies for responding.
- Resources used in training provides clear information about available supports and how to access them.