The Translating Justice Initiative aims to enhance access for those who experience communication and cultural barriers in the justice system. It assists victims services providers, law enforcement, legal services providers and others who work in the justice system to overcome communication and cultural barriers with people who have limited English proficiency (LEP) and for those who are Deaf or hard of hearing (D/HOH) through training, tailored assistance, published resources, and research on promising practices.

Our Work

Latest Project

With funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Victims of Crime (OVC), Vera partnered with four organizations (Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence; National Latin@ Network; Advocacy Services for Abused Deaf Victims; and National Center for Victims of Crime) to develop and provide nationwide training and support to victim service providers and allied professionals in the area of language access. The goal of this project is to provide training and support to victim service providers and allied professionals to increase language access for crime victims who are Deaf and hard of hearing and those with limited English proficiency.

With Law Enforcement and Victim Services

We are assisting law enforcement in effectively overcoming language barriers with people with limited English proficiency through the following activities (click on each link to access relevant resources):

 We are assisting victim service providers in increasing cultural and linguistic access to services for Deaf survivors of domestic and sexual violence (click on each link to access relevant resources):

With Immigration Legal Service Providers

We are developing resources and training for legal services providers of immigrants facing deportation, such as (click on each link to access relevant resources):

With Criminal Justice and Juvenile Justice Practitioners

We are assisting criminal justice and juvenile justice practitioners in serving those who may be underserved or vulnerable due to language, culture, or disability by (click on each link to access relevant resources):

Why Translating Justice?

U.S. Census data shows that almost 20 percent of Americans speak a language other than English at home, and about 25 million Americans have a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English—they are what is known as limited English proficient (LEP). In addition, nearly 37 million adults in the U.S. have difficulty hearing – comprising people who are Deaf and hard of hearing (D/HOH).  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. For LEP individuals and Deaf and hard of hearing individuals, it is difficult to exchange information in any language other than a person’s primary language in the best circumstances, and it becomes even more difficult when a person has experienced trauma, is in crisis, or if the information being conveyed is complex.


Using Telephonic Interpreters: Mindfulness and Mastery
This webinar was designed for legal services providers in Vera’s Legal Orientation Program and Unaccompanied Children’s Program networks who work with clients who do not speak English or Spanish. The presentation provides practical tips for how to prepare for a telephonic interpretation, the Do’s...
Understanding the Maze: If Your Child Has Contact with the Law
When children have contact with law enforcement, particularly if they are arrested, they can end up deeper than necessary in the justice system if their parents face language barriers. This guide helps parents and other caregivers understand their role and participate if their child is involved in...
Bridging the Language Divide: Promising Practices for Law Enforcement
Law enforcement officers need to communicate with the people they serve to do their jobs safely and effectively. Yet due to changing demographics across the United States, police officers in many areas interact almost daily with people who do not speak or understand English well. To meet this...
Overcoming language barriers in the criminal justice system: can language assistance technology help?
Criminal justice administrators are increasingly looking for creative and cost-effective ways to deal with language barriers that arise when serving a diverse population. One promising solution is to invest in “language assistance technology”—computer and networking technology that can ease...
Translating Justice: A Spanish Glossary for New York City
The Vera Institute of Justice has developed a glossary in Spanish to serve as a resource for interpreters, translators, and bilingual staff at New York City's justice and public safety agencies, courts, and nonprofit organizations. We hope the use of these glossaries will improve limited English...