Language access

Language Access: A planning tool for advocacy organizations

Making domestic violence services accessible to individuals with limited English proficiency 

Creative and dedicated sexual and domestic violence programs and advocates have always found ways to improve our work toward safety, healing, and justice for those harmed by violence, and to end and prevent violence at home and in our communities. If we invest in a comprehensive, proactive approach to providing assistance for individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP), all survivors will have greater access to critical services and greater success in addressing the violence in their lives. 

This toolkit provides resources and support to build language access as a core service for survivors with LEP. The tabs at the top link to:

  • A step-by-step process for developing your first written Language Access Plan, and a guide to critical conversations to enhance an existing Language Access Plan.
  • Tools to help you establish your program’s language access standards and make them part of your program’s day-to-day work, such as language skill assessments, interpreter code of ethics and confidentiality forms, and multilingual materials (I Speak cards, translated materials, etc.).
  • Descriptions and analysis of specific language access strategies such as language identification and interpreter services.
  • Support to help you advocate for language access services throughout the community: training curriculum and systems advocacy guidance.
  • Resources, such as federal law and guidance, sample plans, and promising practices to help you shape your efforts. These are informational resources you may need to build your own Language Access Plan and for systems advocacy.

Do you have a specific question? The quick links to the left take you directly to answers to some of the common ones.

Before you get started

In our experience, developing or revising a written Language Access Plan is most efficient if your program designates:

  • A workgroup, with members across all functions and programs. The workgroup has deep insight and faster access across staff (consider all the specialized groups, such as shelter staff, volunteers, prevention team, etc.; and how they communicate, including check-ins, group e-mails, or simply sharing office space), and can share research and writing tasks.
  • A workgroup leader to ensure the progress of the workgroup, communicate as needed with all staff, and coordinate the development of the written Plan. If the workgroup has completed its assignments and worksheets and has met to review results and provide analysis, coordinating the written Plan can be as straightforward as integrating the workgroup documents into one that is cohesive and accessible.

We will continue to add to this toolkit as we develop or identify new resources and learn of promising practices in our field. Please let us know what language access resources and practices are working best for you.