Disabled people are the world’s largest minority. The United Nations estimates that over a billion people live with some form of disability and they are disproportionately represented among the world’s poorest and at greater risk of suffering from violence, disaster, poverty, and many other hardships. (United Nations)

People with developmental disabilities have among the highest rates of physical, sexual and emotional violence perpetrated by intimate partners and family members. Disabled individuals are at greater risk of severe physical and sexual violence than non-disabled persons, and many disabled victims of violence experience multiple assaults. Domestic abuse victims with disabilities are often more dependent on their caretakers than victims without disabilities, and face many barriers to reporting abuse and seeking services. Victims who do report abuse or seek services often do not find adequate help, since many programs that serve domestic violence victims are not equipped or trained to offer proper care to disabled victims. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence).

In 2022, End Abuse launched Spotlight, an annual publication exploring pathways to ending violence. The very first edition explored Disability Justice, in which we compiled resources, delved into the 10 Principles of Disability Justice, and – importantly – asked ourselves, as a coalition, how we were (and weren’t!) actively embodying disability justice in our everyday work.  View this edition of Spotlight here.

During Disability Pride Month (July) 2023, we committed to a deeper and more actionable approach to disability justice by developing a year-long awareness campaign that offers concepts and tips to those in antiviolence work who want to deepen their understanding and actionable work towards a disability justice vision and practice. This page offers this effort to member programs and beyond, to support tangible change alongside shifts in our collective worldview to more meaningfully center those most impacted by all forms of oppression.

Understanding the Differences & Overlaps: Disability Rights, Disability Justice, and Accessibility

Let’s begin by getting clear on terms!

Disability Rights

The disability rights movement is a global social movement that seeks to secure equal opportunities and equal rights for all people with disabilities. The focus is on legal access and protections.


Accessibility is when the needs of people with disabilities are specifically considered, and products, services, and facilities are built or modified so that they can be used by people of all abilities. 

Disability Justice

Disability justice is a social justice movement which focuses on examining disability and ableism as they relate to other forms of oppression and identity such as race, class and gender. It holds a vision born out of collective struggle, drawing upon legacies of cultural and spiritual resistance. 

Disability Justice is a term that was coined in 2005 by a collective of disabled queer women of color, including Patty Berne, Mia Mingus, and the late Stacey Milbern. Disability Justice builds on the disability rights movement, taking a more comprehensive approach to help secure rights for disabled people by recognizing the intersectionality of disabled people who belong to additional marginalized communities. 

The Disability Justice framework asserts that we must include the experiences of multiply marginalized people with disabilities such as: 

  • People of color 
  • Immigrants 
  • LGBTQIA+ People
  • Homeless people
  • Incarcerated people / the Unhoused
  • People who have had their ancestral lands stolen 
  • Older adults

Disability Justice looks at all of these issues, recognizing how diverse systems of oppression interact and reinforce each other. Because of this broader focus, the Disability Justice movement is the most comprehensive way to create lasting change for people with disabilities and who are multiply marginalized.. 

In Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha reminds us that “[disability justice] means we are not left behind; we are beloved, kindred, needed.”


Sins Invalid

World Institute on Disability

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10 Ways to Create Accessible Online Documents

Iour Disability Justice campaign launch, we offered definitions of three important terms: Disability Rights, Disability Justice, and Accessibility. Accessibility – when the needs of people with disabilities are specifically considered, and products, services, and facilities are built or modified so that they can be used by people of all abilities – is just one component of Disability Justice, but it’s an important, everyday element we can all offer in many contexts, including in our online content! 

With Domestic Violence Awareness Month just around the corner, many local programs are working on creating graphics and website updates that raise awareness about domestic violence and ways to get involved. So, we wanted to offer some practical tips to help online content be accessible! Check out the tips below, and go further in your learning by checking out how to create accessible events, virtual events, and more at https://bit.ly/VeraAccessibleEvents 

10 Ways to Create Accessible Online Documents
  1. Use plain language in a readable Sans-Serif font. (ex: Ariel, Calibri, Helvetica)
  2. Font sizes between 14 to 18-point will be easier to read.
  3. Left-align main text.
  4. Use headings to help the reader navigate the materials.
  5. Break your content into short, concise paragraphs for quicker reading.
  6. Choose high contrast colors for text and design.
  7. Allow for 1.5x or 2x spacing or leading between lines of text, for readers to move their eyes from line to line with ease.
  8. Use white space (areas without text or images, including margins) as a design element to improve readability.
  9. Use graphics and images to break up blocks of text and support your messages.
  10. If available, use the software’s built in Accessibility Checker (available in many Microsoft and Adobe applications) to analyze your document’s accessibility.

If you’d like to further your learning about creating accessible social media, check out these tips from the National Resource Center for Reaching Victims!


National Resource Center for Reaching Victims

Vera Institute of Justice

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Other pages in this section

Domestic Violence 101
In Wisconsin and across the world, marginalized communities (including People of Color, immigrants, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ people) experience disproportionately higher rates of violence, including domestic violence. Domestic violence can happen to anyone, but survivors and victims of marginalized...
Transnational Marriage Abandonment
Transnational Marriage Abandonment (TMA) is defined as a type of abuse in which an abuser abandons the victim-spouse in that victim-spouse’s country of origin, without means to return to the United States. The abuser, who is usually a U.S. citizen...
DV & Reproductive Justice
"Survivors of domestic violence are directly impacted by access to reproductive justice: the right to maintain bodily autonomy, have or not have children, and parent children we have in safe and sustainable communities.* - SisterSong Women of Color Collective "Reproductive...

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