Exploring the needs and strengths of Latin@ communities

Infographic from language access needs assesmentThe newest resource here at NSVRC has been making a big splash, and I’m excited to share more about the recently released national needs assessment on serving Latin@ communities. I hinted at this new tool in my last blog post about cultivating a vision for greater inclusivity in sexual violence prevention work. Today’s post reflects on our organization’s language access journey and a few of the lessons-learned along the way.
 
Now before I get started, it’s time for a BIG disclaimer. NSVRC’s language access journey is ongoing, and it has been a process with ups and downs, trial and error, and a lot of learning and support. Tremendous support from partners and inspiration from pioneers in our movement have also shaped our work as allies to the Latin@ community. Is there still room for growth? “¡Creo que si!” (I believe so!) The findings of Preventing Sexual Violence in Latin@ Communities (also available in Spanish) confirm this and offer insight to the greatest needs and opportunities in furthering this work. Let’s explore!
 

The needs of the Latin@ community are diverse. 

Latin@s make up a significant portion of the US population and growth. This umbrella represents a vast diversity of cultures and unique experiences, geographies, generations, languages, cuisines and customs. There is no one word or one culture when we are talking about Latin@ communities, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to these unique needs. 
 

Awareness is key to capacity building. 

Participants in the study were asked questions about cultural and linguistic diversity with their organization, and Spanish-language skills and use of relevant resources were also addressed. For the majority of participants cultural and linguistic diversity, Spanish-language skills and cultural relevance are a barrier. The need to build organizational capacity for cross-cultural work is a key finding of this report, and the first step is to engage organizations in growth is to build an awareness of this need.  
 

Translation does not equal relevant.  

The report talks about organizations using culturally and linguistically relevant resources, and it’s important to note that this is different than translation. Translation is an important piece in accessibility, but resources are relevant when the intended audience’s needs, culture and voices are at the heart of the process. It’s difficult to meet the needs of an audience you don’t know, and it’s imperative to have Latin@ voices engaged in the process of creating relevant materials
 

Meaningful partnerships engage communities. 

The need for outreach and relationship building is another key finding of the needs assessment. NSVRC’s Multilingual Access Project (MAPA) partners share a vision for meaningful partnerships that I love. I think this model is a beautiful approach when it comes to our work to engage any and all culturally-specific communities. Engaging partners meaningfully is an active process of listening to needs and incorporating strengths. This requires asking “What are your needs?” and listening to “What are your solutions?”
 
The needs assessment shares a lot of great information about barriers and opportunities to preventing sexual violence in Latin@ communities. This is also in invitation to be a part of the journey toward a more inclusive and accessible movement allied with Latin@ communities. What opportunites and solutions do you see?
 
Note: The symbol “@” is used to represent the feminine and masculine versions of words and promote gender inclusion. 
 

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