Niagara University’s First Responder Disability Awareness Training program will develop and provide training on the intersection of domestic violence and disabilities as part of a new domestic violence program being established by Community Services for Every1. The program, funded by a three-year, $325,000 grant from the Department of Justice through the Office of Violence Against Women, is the first of its kind in the Buffalo-Niagara region providing resources specifically tailored to assist individuals with disabilities. As part of its ongoing collaboration with Community Services for Every1 and the Family Justice Center, NU FRDAT will work with these organizations to integrate current curriculums to offer training for disability organizations, domestic violence agencies, and legal and law enforcement entities in Western New York to help them better assist people diagnosed with intellectual/developmental disabilities who have experienced domestic violence.

This new program will expand NU FRDAT’s current offerings, which include customized training to law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, and 911 telecommunicators, as well as training for emergency management personnel, both on site and in virtual formats. It was created in cooperation with all major first responder associations, councils and state offices, and designed to give first responders the knowledge necessary to best serve and respond to individuals with disabilities.

“Everyone needs disability awareness training,” said David V. Whalen, project director of NU FRDAT. “Law enforcement is as challenged to respond to people with disabilities as it is to any other demographic. Our training gives all first responders a model that helps them recognize, identify, approach, interact, and respond to people with disabilities.”

Since its establishment in 2010, NU FRDAT has contracted with numerous organizations across the country to provide its training, which is the only one of its kind in the US. Most recently, the program has received a $10,000 mini grant to provide training at a first responder conference Arizona, a $30,000 grant to provide emergency management training in Nebraska, and an $18,000 grant to train first responders in Western Pennsylvania. NU FRDAT also provides training in Missouri, South Dakota, and New York.