Talk About Sexual Violence: Phase Three Final Report

Transforming Health Care to Address and Prevent Sexual Violence of People With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Final Report 

Health care providers hold vital positions in the growing national movement to address sexual assault. The overarching goals of the multi-year Talk About Sexual Violence (TASV) project were to raise the alarm about this silent epidemic, promote trauma-informed practices in health care, and compel action to prevent sexual trauma suffered in communities across the country.

This comprehensive summary report provides key findings, innovative solutions, and a call to action from survivors with disabilities, health care professionals, and other advocates.

This final report is provided both in a written format and as a video.

2023 Talk About Sexual Violence Final Report: Transforming Health Care to Address Sexual Violence of People With IDD

In this video, Leigh Anne McKingsley, Senior Director of The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability, and Kecia Weller, Survivor Self-Advocate and Project Advisor, provide an overview of the key findings and recommendations of the Talk About Sexual Violence project over the past seven years.

Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools

Filed: November 16, 2022

Court: U.S. Supreme Court

Overview: Amicus brief explaining that students with disabilities are not required to exhaust their administrative remedies to bring non-IDEA civil rights claims.

Excerpt: “…the decision below significantly undermines IDEA’s policies of protecting students’ rights and the use of alternative dispute resolution procedures as a preferred method for resolving IDEA claims. If allowed to stand, the decision will force parents who could otherwise achieve all available IDEA relief through settlement to nonetheless litigate their claims, lest they be left foreclosed from pursuing non-IDEA civil rights claims as Miguel Perez (Miguel) was. This would be true even though an administrative record regarding appropriate educational instruction serves no purpose whatsoever for adjudicating non IDEA claims and, more significantly, would delay the implementation of any appropriate IDEA remedy…In other words, it adds nothing of value and may further harm students who already prevailed on their IDEA claims.”

Case Documents

Amicus Brief

Press Releases

National Disability Rights Groups File Amicus in Perez v. Sturgis

National Disability Rights Groups Applaud SCOTUS Decision in Perez v. Sturgis

Related Media

Disability Scoop: Supreme Court Case Could Change How Special Ed Disputes Are Handled

Disability Scoop: Supreme Court Unanimously Sides With Student in Special Ed Case

USA Today: Special Education Clash: How One Student’s Supreme Court Case Could Make Schools More Accountable

K-12 Dive: 3 Takeaways From the Perez Special Education Case

Exploring Locative Technology: What You Need to Know to Address Wandering

During this webinar, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) discusses the pros and cons of using tracking devices in wandering situations, emphasizing some effective alternatives.

The speakers are two parents and police officers, Laurie Reyes and Stefan Bjes, and Board Member, poet, and self-advocate Russell Lehmann.

Williams v. Carvajal

Filed: June 21, 2022

Court: Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals

Overview: This amicus brief explains why requiring prisoners with disabilities to go through additional administrative burdens to file grievances when in prison violates the ADA and Section 504.

Excerpt: The purpose of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA in this context is to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not required to navigate draconian systems just to access the same program as similarly situated people without a disability, based solely on their disability status. The decision of the district court represents a classic example of a person with a disability being forced to jump through more hoops than is required of their non-disabled brethren…Only prisoners with disabilities are required to “exhaust” the additional procedure; prisoners without disabilities are not. Rather than ensuring that the barriers faced are no greater for a person with a disability, the decision of the Court below ignores the purpose behind the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA by erecting additional barriers for individuals with disabilities. While complying with complex administrative grievance processes can be challenging for anyone, prisoners with disabilities face unique challenges. Failing to provide reasonable accommodations to those prisoners only exacerbates those challenges. Singling out this exact population for additional complex grievance requirements will undermine the enforcement of disability law in prisons without any countervailing benefit in screening out meritorious claims.

Case Documents

Amicus Brief

United States v. Mississippi

Filed: April 5, 2022

Court: Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

Overview: Amicus brief supporting the district court holding that Mississippi’s mental health system depends too heavily on institutionalization and does not provide the community-based services that Title II of the ADA and Supreme Court precedent under Olmstead require.

Excerpt: “Because the United States established each of the three components under Olmstead, the district court concluded that Mississippi was required to provide the community-based services that had been lacking. This ruling tracked established precedent, was supported by the evidence, and should be affirmed.”

Case Documents

Amicus Brief

Education for Students With Disabilities in the Juvenile Justice System

Students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) do not lose their right to public education, including all rights to special education, when they are adjudicated delinquent. Once in the juvenile justice system, young people with IDD may be placed in a variety of settings, ranging from home confinement to foster homes to group residential settings and so on, all the way down the continuum to secure detention and solitary confinement. Wherever they are, they have the same rights to access the coursework the state requires for all students, as well as the services and supports provided by their IEP and/or Section 504 plan. In a secure setting, the way in which some services are provided may be altered, but the services cannot be denied.

Speaker Bio: A litigator with more than 26 years of experience in juvenile and education law, Diane Smith Howard’s work at NDRN focuses on conditions for children, youth and adults with disabilities in institutional systems. Specifically, youth in the juvenile justice, child welfare, education, and refugee resettlement systems, and adults with disabilities in the criminal justice and mental health systems.

Diane holds a B.A. with honors from Colby College, Waterville, ME, and a J. D. from Wayne State University Law School, Detroit, MI. Diane’s passion for this work is rooted in a family connection to foster and adopted children with disabilities, and to adults who are at risk of institutionalization due to a lack of community supports.

Download the presentation here.

For further questions, please email

Talk About Sexual Violence: Supported Decision-Making

This eight-minute video helps medical professionals understand what supported-decision making is and why it is important to use when assisting victims of sexual violence who have an intellectual or developmental disability.

Talk About Sexual Violence: Plain Language

This eight-minute video provides health care professionals with a basic understanding of plain language and how to use it so that patients with IDD can better understand information and more fully participate in health care decisions.

Why Talk About Sexual Violence? Medical Professional Focus Group Findings

This eight-minute video highlights key findings from focus groups held with medical professionals who were asked about how they address or talk about sexual violence with their patients with intellectual or developmental disabilities.