In our efforts to assist and accommodate survivors with limited English proficiency (LEP), sexual and domestic violence programs have largely operated reactively when it comes to providing language access. We respond to survivors one at a time and find ways to support their participation in the programs when the need arises. Even programs that already primarily serve survivors with LEP may find themselves challenged when a survivor who speaks a different language than the one used by the program tries to access services.
Relying on a patchwork of ad-hoc communication methods is guaranteed at some point to make advocates feel ineffective or frustrated and survivors feel isolated, lonely, and confused. The lack of a proactive plan for meeting the language needs of survivors with LEP can undermine meaningful access to services, limit their options, and compromise their safety.
A language access plan should grow and evolve with your organization and changing community realities. It is an ongoing process that can have transformative results.