Nearly 25 million Americans have difficulty reading, writing, and speaking in English, and nearly 37 million Americans are Deaf or hard of hearing (D/HOH). All too often, when individuals who are LEP or D/HOH are victimized, these victims are denied access to critical services and supports because victim service providers do not understand how to provide language access, or their legal and ethical obligations to do so. Language access is a crucial factor in the successful delivery of services to crime victims, as every interaction from the identification of needs to the provision of services requires effective communication.

Language barriers are associated with a number of adverse outcomes, including victimization. Immigrants, particularly those who are LEP and/or fearful of deportation, are at great risk of being targeted by criminals for various crimes because perpetrators know they cannot or will not seek out police protection. Deaf and hard of hearing individuals have higher rates of domestic and sexual victimization than their hearing counterparts. Underreporting of victimization to law enforcement means that victims are not able to fully access the justice options and services they need, and offenders are not held accountable.

Although public agencies that receive federal funding are required to provide language services to LEP individuals, including posting signs indicating the availability of language services and translating important documents into various languages, due to resource constraints, lack of awareness and lack of capacity, these requirements remain unmet in systematic ways. Vera’s Translating Justice project seeks to fill that gap.

Resources for Police, Working with Limited English Proficiency Speakers:

Resources for Immigration Legal Service Providers, Working with LEP Speakers:

Resources for Victim Service Providers, Working with Deaf and hard of hearing:

Resources for Criminal/Juvenile Justice Practitioners: