enhancing access for individuals with limited english profiency toolkit

Escape

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Safety Alert: If you believe your computer activities are being monitored, please access this site from a safer computer. To immediately exit this site, click the escape button. If you are in immediate danger, contact 911, a local crisis line, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

A recent survey by the National Latin@ Network and the National Domestic Violence Hotline asked over 1,300 Latina/Hispanic women about their experiences accessing and using domestic violence services [1]. Approximately 40 percent completed the survey in Spanish. Nearly one out every three women who completed the survey in Spanish reported “problems using services related to domestic violence” because the services were not provided in their language. The services they could not access included shelter advocacy, obtaining protection orders, and police assistance. Even though many respondents may understand some English, many prefer to speak their native language when discussing complicated legal matters or issues that are traumatic.

Many women reported failures in system responses due to language barriers:

Police left [the scene] because they did not speak Spanish.

The closest shelters don’t offer services in Spanish. The police gave me a list of shelters, but they didn’t specify which ones might be able to help me in Spanish.

In another study by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, domestic violence survivors in four states were asked about their experiences seeking help. One out of four women surveyed said they wanted translation or interpretation services. Of those survivors needing language access services, 20% received inadequate translation or interpretation [2]. Notably, when quality language access was provided, women were able to participate and benefit from the services. As one survivor stated, “I am not fluent in English, so I appreciate that I can receive the service in Korean. The social workers understood my native language and culture, so I can overcome adversities with them” [3].


[1] Realidades Latinas: A National Survey on the Impact of Immigration and Language Access on Latina Survivors, Casa de Esperanza and the National Domestic Violence Hotline (2013) pg. 4 & 5.

[2]Meeting Survivor’s Needs Through Non-Residential Domestic Violence Services and Supports: Results of a Multi-State Study”, E. Lyon and J. Bradshaw (November 2011) pp 71-73.

[3] Ibid pg. 82