Ayuda’s Language Access Program exists to make sure that our neighbors can obtain the critical services they need, regardless of the languages they use to communicate. For nearly 16 years, the program has been a bedrock of Ayuda’s work supporting low-income immigrants – and we’re delighted to share that the Language Access Program is growing, with the launch of our first Virginia Interpreter Bank

With this expansion, Fairfax County survivors of crime will now benefit from Ayuda’s first-of-its-kind program, which has become a key resource for the nonprofit community in the D.C. region. The Language Access Program provides free interpretation and translation services to Ayuda clients, and over 100 nonprofits in DC, Maryland, and now Virginia. Our team also trains interpreters on trauma-informed practices, interpreting in specific legal and social services settings, and other interpreter best practices.

What’s an Interpreter Bank and How Does It Help Immigrants?

An “interpreter bank” connects people who need translation or interpretation services with the qualified interpreter(s) who fill this need. Ayuda’s interpreter banks are staffed with individuals specially trained to work in legal settings in a trauma-informed manner. Nonprofits in our area can use these services free of charge, and dozens of law firms serving pro bono clients also rely on our language access program for a reasonable fee.  

Recently, we heard from one of these nonprofits about how Ayuda’s interpreter bank is helping them pursue justice for a Russian-speaking asylum seeker.

In fall of 2022, an attorney with the Catholic Charities – Washington, D.C., was asked to take on his case. The man had fled to the U.S. after suffering persecution in Russia due to his opposition of the war in Ukraine but could not afford private representation. Equipped with Ayuda’s interpreter bank, the Catholic Charities attorney was able to assist. 

“Although the client does not speak much English and I am not a Russian speaker, I agreed to represent him because I knew I could turn to Ayuda’s Language Access Program for help,” the attorney recounted. 

“Ayuda was able to connect me with a specially trained Ayuda Russian interpreter who met virtually with me and my client for three 2+ hour sessions in November and December 2022 so that I could thoroughly interview the client and help him prepare his application for asylum, including his multi-page personal declaration. I would not have been able to represent this client without Ayuda’s invaluable help!” 

Attorney, Catholic Charities – Washington, D.C.

Interested in using or becoming part of an Ayuda interpreter bank? Contact [email protected] or learn more here.