The Sexuality and Access Project began in 2009 as a two-year community action and research initiative funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and managed by Springtide Resources. The initial goal of the project was to improve the health of Ontarians living with disabilities who use attendant services and the workplace health and safety of personal care attendants, specifically around issues of sexual health.
The project began with some basic truths that are simple, but are often simply ignored:
- Sexual rights are human rights.
- Sexual health is core component of general health.
- People with disabilities who use attendant services have a right to access information and resources about their sexual health and support in expressing their sexuality.
- Attendants have sexual rights, which include the right to a workplace that is not sexualized.
We surveyed over 400 attendants and people using attendant services and asked them about their experiences dealing with sexuality and sexual health in the context of the attendant care relationship.
The results of that survey guided the development of several DVD documentaries and discussion tools as well as the development of a two day training for peer facilitators; people who have personal experience either providing or using attendant care or support.
In 2011 the project began training people to go out and start conversations in their own communities about these topics. The goal of this project is not to create a group of experts that will tell everyone how it should be done, but rather to spark conversations within communities, agencies, and between individuals, such that the knowledge and experience that is already out there can be shared, and community based solutions can be found to challenges identified by people in those communities.
It is our hope that the Sexuality and Access Project will provide an entry point into a much bigger conversation about how people who use attendant services (however they use them) can gain greater and easier access to their basic human rights, including their sexual rights, and how people who provide attendant services (however they provide them) can ensure their own health and safety in the workplace.
The project continues, and on this site you can learn more about us, access our survey, learn more about workshops and trainings we offer in the area of sexuality and disability, and find related resources.
In our work we are not interested in offering a uniform or monolithic idea of what sexuality is, or how disability should be understood. We are excited to be a part of a growing body of activism, education, and academic work that is challenging ableist constructions of sexuality and working towards complicating public and private conversations about sexuality, gender, and embodiment. If you’d like to know more about us or our project, if you’d like to get involved, or if you’re looking for resources related to sexuality and disability, we hope you’ll connect with us.
This website is maintained and supported through volunteer time, but we want to acknowledge that this project could not have happened with the financial support of our funder and the commitment of Springtide Resources.