Article: C4DP’s Commitment to Accessibility
Marin County is idyllic, with its rolling green hills, beautiful streams, and open space. It is home to more than 250,000 people and the Bay Area’s oldest population base. What is also true is that almost 21% of all our households have a member with a disability. Whether it be a physical disability, learning disability, or even a language barrier, individuals with disabilities and with special access and functional needs experience violence and abuse at much higher rates: they are 40% more likely to be victims of domestic violence.
C4DP’s journey forward to create an inclusive, accessible organization has been a long one. It started early with a commitment to bilingual staff, and then in 1987 with the development of a separate Spanish language-specific hotline and now bilingual capacity in all C4DP service areas, as well as a dedicated teletypewrite (TTY) line for deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired individuals.
Since the early 2000s, it has been a priority to enhance our facilities to be more physically accommodating. We obtained 11 units of accessible transitional housing in Novato, followed by an upgrade and refurbish at the shelter to include an American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant bedroom, bathroom and kitchen in 2010. With the momentum of the House that Love Built campaign – which upgraded not only the shelter, but also the cottage, and created a new studio for the advocate staff – C4DP moved to the next phase in our commitment to increase accessibility throughout the organization. In 2017, a grant from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services was secured that has now resulted in:
- Addition of an elevator to the administrative building on A Street.
- Upgrades of the bathroom in the refurbished cottage to increase accessibility.
- Upgrades of all signage at the shelter to be in Braille.
Another area of significant focus of the grant is helping C4DP increase our capacity to serve survivors with cognitive and mental impairments and language barriers through our website as a vital resource, as well as several outreach materials in alternative formats. We printed our You are Not Alone brochure – a very important and robust tool for resources and help for survivors – in Vietnamese, Portuguese, and Braille. We also converted the audio file of this brochure into a digital format and produced 500 USB drives to distribute at community events and trainings.
And lastly, our new ADA-compliant website will launch this fall. This mammoth endeavor included researching best practices around documented challenges people have using websites so that we could better reach survivors and our community who come to us for help. We built the new website on a more responsive platform, which is easier to access on mobile devices and different browsers, created obvious calls to action, easier navigation, simpler language, and more. We considered spacing, images, logic and new technology all through the lens of ADA sensitivity. We are putting the final touches on it, so visit us later in the year at www.c4dp.org.
As we look to the next 40 years, we embrace our ever-expanding capacity to serve our community and remain at the forefront of ending domestic violence, now and forever. For all of you who have stood by us, invested in us, used our services, and collaborated with us, we are deeply grateful. You make it possible for us to continue enhancing services to all our communities, especially those made more vulnerable to domestic violence because of accessibility challenges or disabilities.