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We’ve had extensive conversations with people, with a variety of disabilities and sexual orientations that revealed confusion and frustration relating to sex and intimacy. If anything, the situation is even more confusing for those in their early teens growing up with a disability. Adolescence is an uncertain time for the abled-bodied; it is many times more difficult for someone with a disability that may have limited access to the resources and opportunities of able-bodied teenagers

Running sexual health workshops has shown us that people with disabilities are looking for a deeper intimacy. While it’s difficult to make generalizations, people with disabilities are not necessarily looking for sexual intercourse – the actual sexual act is a very small percentage of the sensual experience, after all. People want to find someone that cares for them, with whom they are able to become intimate in a safe, positive environment.

There are many alternatives to sexual intercourse, alternative sources of sensual pleasure that turn out to be more subtle, and a lot more complex. We can gain pleasure from giving other people sensual pleasure. Being able to sexually fulfil a partner changes the way people view themselves.

Barriers to hooking up with a like-minded partner can be psychological as much as physical. A man in his forties with a disability who, if truth be told has never dated, is going to need mentoring before being confident enough to meet that special person.

Taking things a little further, sexual surrogates can work through these anxieties and hang-ups with a client, with coaching techniques ranging from relaxation techniques to social skills. . . to intimate touch.

Of course, anybody can visit a massage parlour or call an escort service, but most sex workers in these locations do not have experience of working with clients with disabilities. It can become an awkward situation. In addition, there may be unwritten rules that may prevent kissing, for example. (Hint: ask if they offer girlfriend or boyfriend experience GFE/BFE.)

EASE Canada works closely with Vancouver-based surrogates Sensual Solutions to offer a full range of intimate mentoring services. We find them to be a caring, compassionate group of people who are familiar with the needs of people with disabilities.

EASE, which stands for Equitable and Accessible Sexual Expression, works on many different levels. We raise awareness of issues and advocate for people with disabilities, and educate people in the ways they can achieve intimacy. We work with services that provide surrogacy, if that is required, but mostly we provide mentoring and peer networking. We work with the province’s most established disability organizations, including the Disability Foundation and Spinal Cord Injury BC.

8 Comments

  1. Joschi shea says:

    Can you lead us to a connection in the Toronto are.

  2. greg says:

    Is this available in Montreal Quebec

  3. Saul Isbister says:

    Dear Dave,
    although we haven’t met I corresponded with Kerry when you guys were looking to set up EASE .

    I’ve just had a look at your website and I really like its contents. We are looking to apply for many grants this year as we need to grow in order to expand our capacities. I’m inspired by the way you highlight the difference between sex workers and sex surrogates and we will head the same way in the future. Various sexual lifestyle coaches have also popped up in Australia in recent years. They seek to meet the needs of people with disability who want assistance to set up an online dating profile or be supported in learning and practising other ways to gain confidence as sexily beings, going out on dates etc.

    You will probably also be interested in recent research done here in Australia by Dr Russell Shuttleworth and Dr George Taleporos. They who have looked into the needs of people with disability around the levels of support they need to meet their sex and/ or relationship goals.

    Touching Base is about to make our first significant grant application To our Fedral government. We aim to gain funds to expand the content of our support workers workshop from one day to two and extend our range if delivery across Australia. We also want funding to update our policy and procedure guide in time to print a second edition later this year.

    Would you possibly consider providing us with a short letter of support for our project – in a word doc that we could attach to our grant application? Something along the lines of the following…

    EASE (Equitable Accessible Sexual Expression) Canada was formed after being inspired by the work of Touching Base and the film Scarlet Road. Rachel Wotton was kind enough to come to Canada for a special screening and Q&A of this groundbreaking documentary. Thus was a wonderful opportunity for us, as people with disability, to connect with other members of community who support our aims to ensure choices are available for people disability seeking to express their sexuality, whether through accessing the services of a sex worker, or a sex surrogate, or being supported in other ways to pursue opportunities to interact and socialise and seek out of the relationship opportunities the same as most other people do in the course of an ordinary life.

    Touching Base is highly respected internationally and we commend their work to you. They have achieved an incredible feat in creating an international presence whilst having never had core funding and being operated by volunteers without a formal office. This demonstrates a determination to drive ahead with their objectives regardless of barriers. However I understand that how they now at a point where they need funding in order to expand and rollout at a national level workshops they have developed in New South Wales.

    Touching Base’s policy and procedure guide also provides practical information that enables people with disability to be appropriately supported when seeking to access sex services. We look forward to purchasing the second addition when it is published, particularly as we understand that the next addition will be anchored within the rights articulated in articles of the UN Covenant on the Rights of People with Disability, rather than state level disability service standards. We believe this will create opportunities for the Touching Base Policy and Procedural Guide to be more applicable at the international level and therefore potentially create a new revenue stream for Touching Base that will enhance their sustainability in years to come.

    Yours sincerely,

    Dave Symington
    Co-founder, EASE Canada

    davesymington@hotmail.com

  4. JUDY says:

    HI, MY NAME IS JUDY. I HAVE MS AND AM INTERESTED IN YOUR PROGRAM. PLS GIVE ME DETAILS ON HOW TO PROCEED. THANKS.

  5. easecanada says:

    I’m sorry I didn’t see this sooner. Is it too late to send you a letter? For some reason the messages coming into this site weren’t being forwarded. Anything I can do to help, please let me know

  6. easecanada says:

    Hi judy, thanks for being in touch. Could you tell me where you live and what specifically you were looking for? We generally only have services in Vancouver and the lower mainland but sometimes can find resources outside of British Columbia. Thanks again

  7. easecanada says:

    It’s possible, although our resources are pretty much based in British Columbia. Can you give me a little background on your disability and what specifically you are looking for and I will see if I can help. Thanks

  8. easecanada says:

    Our services are located in Vancouver and in the lower mainland but sometimes we can find appropriate resources in other areas. Please let me know what specifically you were looking for, some detail about your disability and you were sexual history. Many thanks

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