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Our Space and Accessibility

Here at the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre (VSAC), we recognize the resourcefulness of people facing multiple, intersecting barriers.  We understand that folks who live with disabilities spend more time and energy navigating an ableist society.  We do not want accessing services at VSAC to be an additional set of barriers for folks with disabilities.  We want VSAC to be a welcoming space for all survivors, so we have made it a priority to update our Centre by end of summer 2017.  In the meantime, we have made this page to provide detailed descriptions of our facilities, using the Radical Access Mapping disability/illness categories.

Please let us know if we have misrepresented our accessibility information, missed important information, or if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility. This is an ongoing project and we will incorporate community feedback throughout. If you have any questions, concerns, or feedback, please contact Kara Taylor, Resource Development and Communications Coordinator: karat@vsac.ca or 250-383-5545, ext. 125.

Blind/Low vision

  • We have informational materials for people with visual aphasia and low literacy
  • Our website has alternative text and all pages have greater contrast for easier reading
  • The main entrance an automatic door, button is square and on the left
  • The elevator is to the right once you have entered the building
  • There is brail in the elevators
  • Reception is located on the 3rd floor and is the 1st door on your right when the elevator opens on the 3rd floor
  • We have stairs that have sturdy banisters (approx. 20 stairs to the 2nd floor, and another 20 stairs to the 3rd floor)
  • If step counts are helpful, there are approximately:
    • 12 steps from the disability parking spot to the front entrance
    • 8 steps from the front entrance to the elevator
    • 5 steps from the elevator to 3rd floor Reception/Clinic; and
    • 6 steps from the elevator to the 2nd floor door (where counselling and groups occur)

Deaf and Hard of Hearing

  • There is TTY available on our crisis line Monday to Friday, 9:30 to 4:30pm.
  • We are also available by Fax 250-383-6112, or Email crisisline@vsac.ca these are all valid ways  of communicating with us, but if you are in crisis please use our crisis line (250-383-3232)
  • Interpretive services are available through the Island Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centre on an as-needed basis – please let us know if you will need services when you make your appointment and if you have a preferred interpreter so that we can arrange this ahead of time
  • We will equip our space with visual fire alarms by end of summer 2017

Multiple Chemical Sensitivities

  • We have a scent-reduced space here at VSAC. This means that while we strive to be scent-free, we cannot guarantee a completely scent-free environment, given that we share a building and bathrooms, and our services are open to the public.
  • That said, we have staff who suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, so we know how important it is to be as scent-reduced as possible:
    • We ask all our staff, clients and volunteers to come scent-free
    • We have signage on all our doors, and within our space in several areas
    • Our Clinic is cleaned with Accel™, a hospital-grade disinfectant concentrate with Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide
    • The rest of our centre is cleaned with Fantastic Cleaners Products
    • For a complete list of ingredients used in all cleaning products for the Clinic and the rest of the Centre click here.
      • Please note: if someone arrives scented, we do not ask them to leave, but we provide a friendly reminder for them to come scent-free next time

Wheelchair/Scooter and Mobility Limitations

  • We have one elevator that opens at the main entrance and then at our 2nd floor and 3rd floor entrances
  • We also have stairs that have sturdy banisters (approx. 20 stairs to the 2nd floor, and another 20 stairs to the 3rd floor)
  • If steps counts are helpful, there are approximately:
    • 12 steps from the disability parking spot to the front entrance
    • 8 steps from the front entrance to the elevator
    • 5 steps from the elevator to 3rd floor Reception/Clinic; and
    • 6 steps from the elevator to the 2nd floor door (where counselling and groups occur)
  • The seating in Reception do not have arms and can be moved to better accommodate diverse bodies and mobility aids
  • The seating in counselling offices are large, wing back chairs and the seating in the group rooms are average size. Both have arms, but can also be moved to fit mobility aids
  • Our hallways and the elevator are wide enough for the use of mobility aids
  • There is a washroom on the 3rd floor that is large enough to accommodate a wheelchair or scooter, and it has metal bars next to the toilet
  • The Clinic exam room, washroom, and shower are wheelchair accessible [please note the clinic washroom/shower is only available if accessing Clinic]
  • The police interview room attached to the Clinic is on the small side but furniture can be moved to accommodate your needs.
  • Although individual counselling offices may not be able to accommodate mobility aids, alternate space in our groups rooms can be used. Our group rooms are large and can accommodate multiple mobility aids at a time
  • The main door entrance is automated. If you need further assistance:
    • Connect with your counsellor beforehand to coordinate getting into the building
    • If you were unable to connect with your counsellor beforehand, let Reception know and they will be happy to come down and assist
  • All door handles are being changed from knobs to levers by end of summer 2017, but the reception door already has a lever handle

Neurodiversity and Mental Health

At VSAC we strive to ensure our space is as accessible as possible to everyone, especially those folks dealing with mental health and trauma, or who are neurodivergent. Here are some ways we are working towards this:

  • Counselling staff are trained in Trauma Informed practices
  • Secure Space – counselling offices are accessed through a secure main door (staff have keys) no key is required to exit.
  • Comfortable space with natural light or low lighting where possible
  • Sensory stimuli at low levels throughout the centre
  • Visual supports are available
  • Knowledgeable staff
    • Within the centre, our staff have a diverse range of experience working with mental illness and trauma, and in partnership with neurodivergent folks.
    • Several members of staff are neurodivergent in various ways
    • One counsellor is experienced in working with folks who have ADHD and/or are on the autism spectrum. Her experience and training primarily come from the Resource Centre for Students with a Disability at the University of Victoria
  • VSAC recognizes healing from sexual violence is not linear and that individuals may need to access services at different points in their journey.
  • Appointments are generally one hour once per week for individual counselling. 2.5 hours once a week for most group counselling.  You are allowed to leave sessions at any time.
  • VSAC resources are limited but we will work with individuals who have difficulty accessing services to try to accommodate their specific needs on a case-by-case basis. Where the specific needs can’t be met, the individual has the right to review their file with their counsellor or with the Direct Client Service Manager.
  • Please note: There may be individuals who are beyond the scope of practice for our counsellors.  We will work with these individuals to explore alternative resources.

Washrooms

  • There are 2, single stall, all genders washrooms on the 2nd floor
  • There are 2, single stall, all genders washrooms on the 3rd floor that are spacious enough to fit a wheelchair or scooter, and they each have a metal support bar
  • There is a wheelchair accessible washroom and shower for people accessing the Clinic.

Bus Access

  • The most direct bus route is the 24 Cedar Hill/Admirals Walk – the stops are the ones closest to Cedar Hill at Gosworth
  • We are located approximately ½ a city block from the 24 Cedar Hill & the 24 Admirals Walk

Animals

  • All guide, assistance, and therapy animals are welcomed in our space

Financial

  • All our services are free of charge but donations are welcome
  • We provide assistance with applications for the Crime Victim Assistance Program (CVAP) and the Residential Historical Abuse Program (RHAP)
  • We provide the cost of cab fare for people accessing the Sexual Assault Response Team (Clinic or Hospital), and bus tickets for all other programs and services
  • Parking is free and is available at Finlayson Place or Cedar Hill Rd if you are attending counselling, Project Respect initiatives or groups. A parking map is available here *If you are in need of accessibility parking because you have limited mobility, you may use the designated parking spot. Please call ahead to ensure this spot is available when you need it!*
  • There are snacks available for our groups, and we are always conscious of Gluten Free and Vegetarian options

Documentation

  • No identification is required when accessing our services and programs, however you may be asked some personal information, such as: your name, birthdate, etc…
  • If you are accessing the services of the Sexual Assault Response Team and Clinic, you may be asked for your BC Medical Services Plan or other medical insurance (other provinces or international) if you have it. You will still receive services if you don’t have medical insurance.
  • No proof of address is required
  • Newcomers and Refugees – your status in Canada (no matter what it is) does not prevent you from getting services here
  • You will be asked personal information (e.g. name, address, contact number, pronouns etc.) but you can answer only what feels comfortable

Drugs and Alcohol

At the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre, there are a range of services available to support survivors in their day to day lives including the 24 hour Crisis and Information line, crisis counselling, support making a police report or navigating the court process, groups focusing on building trauma recovery skills and strengths and, individualized therapy to process the trauma. If you, or a loved one, are using substances, please don’t assume that this will make you ineligible for services. Although the individualized trauma therapy does require a high degree of safety, stability and coping skills, other services may be appropriate for you. For more on coping mechanisms read the blog, Coping and Compassion.

Additional Notes

  • We are changing our lighting (by end of summer 2017) to get rid of all florescent lights within our counselling space. The Reception and Clinic space do not have florescent lighting.
  • We have a general knowledge of the importance of space, and we have flexibility with how our space is used (e.g. moving furniture etc.)
  • Please let us know how we can assist you during the time period before our updates are complete