The Massachusetts Bay Area Transportation Authority (MBTA), as part of a coalition of organizations, launched a new information campaign in November to enhance passenger safety and encourage the public to report incidents of sexual harassment. The campaign’s message is that sexual assaults will not be tolerated on the T or anywhere else.
This year, the MASS Collaboration, a partnership with the Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL), the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC), the MBTA, and the MBTA Transit Police, developed the campaign with a focus on people with disabilities. MASS — Movement for Access, Safety & Survivors — is a collaboration whose goal is to insure that survivors and victims of sexual violence with disabilities in the Boston area have access to quality support services.
“Findings show that people with disabilities experience sexual assault twice as often as those without disabilities. We have also been learning how people with disabilities can be active participants in preventing sexual violence against others,” said BCIL senior advocacy specialist Karen Schneiderman.
MASS Collaboration works to create a safe environment for all customers, one that includes the needs of people with disabilities, including ensuring that reporting and response mechanisms are accessible. The MASS Collaboration is also increasing the skill and comfort of employees at BARCC, BCIL and the MBTA with respect to working with victims/survivors with disabilities.
Efforts at the T have included developing information and trainings on topics such as responding to reports of sexual violence from those with disabilities, and how to secure wheeled mobility devices in a manner that is safe and empowering to customers.
As in past campaigns, advertisements will be posted on trains and buses, and postcards will be handed out to riders at several stations. Postcards will be available in large print and the MASS Collaboration has also created an online website to make the information accessible to those who are blind or have low vision.
“By increasing visibility of an under-addressed issue, we hope to let all riders know that you can make a difference if you intervene when you witness sexual violence. Accessible services are available at BARCC for survivors and those supporting and assisting them,” said Shelley Yen-Ewert, director of the MASS Collaboration.