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  • Language Access
  • Volume 10 | Spring 2008

articles | Spring 2008

Working with Deaf Survivors of Domestic Violence

Several years ago, a colleague and I began to provide representation to low-income survivors of domestic violence in complex family law matters. We focused specifically on helping immigrant clients who did not speak English, as my colleague also spoke Spanish, and I speak Korean. Things were going well, and we were pretty pleased with the results of our work. One day, a Deaf woman walked into our office. From the court papers in her hands, we could tell that she needed help with her custody matter. From her gestures and pictures, we figured that she had been subject to physical abuse by the father of her child. We passed notes back and forth but found that it was difficult to communicate with her in writing. We contacted Deaf service agencies and disability groups, but they knew of no pro bono family law attorney. We questioned whether this Deaf woman met our case acceptance guidelines. The answer was obvious. She did. She was low income. She did not speak English. She had a difficult family law case. She was a victim of domestic violence. There was nobody else who would take this case. Alone, unrepresented, she would likely lose custody of her child. We had to take the case. Read more . . .

Working Effectively with Limited English Proficient Clients:
How Good Interpreter and Translation Services Can Improve
Our Advocacy for Clients

Recently our office received a call from a couple who were sheltering a young Muslim girl. She had been sold into marriage at the age of 14 in her home country, then brought to the U.S. and forced to live with an abusive husband who beat and raped her repeatedly. While she had tried to escape this situation a number of times in the past two years, on each occasion her reports of abuse were denied by the abuser’s family members, who inserted themselves into the investigation by police and child protective services and acted as “interpreters,” providing false information about the girl and the abuse. So effective was their control that the information they provided had led to the case being closed until she was able to contact our office for legal services. Read more . . .