Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $747,917)
The Adult Advocacy Centers is proposing a Technology for Communication-Accessible Victim Services (TCAVS) project that seeks to address the critical need for individuals with significant speech disabilities to have access to effective communication tools and vocabulary to report abuse. The project focuses on a segment of society that has not been provided with the necessary equity for the ability to report abuse. This access will allow the victim the ability to be part of their own interview, case, prosecution, victim statement, and all other areas of the criminal justice system. The access to justice is that the victim will finally be able to communicate their experience(s)in their own way and the justice system will finally be able to receive that information in a way that can be used to achieve some level of justice and access. People with disabilities are abused 4x more than people without disabilities, but people with specific communication disabilities cannot even report abuse. This project will directly change access to the criminal justice system for victims with communication disabilities across the nation.
The proposed solution both speeds up development of apps and allows for standardization in the industry which is currently lacking. This will provide a universal design for all communication boards and will standardize the industry to ensure consistency across all devices and applications. This standardized template will also ensure consistency in the criminal justice system, as a whole. The app will aid in victims of crime being able to be forensically interviewed, be able to provide testimony, and be admissible in a court of law. Currently, the lack of communication apps and supports lead to inconsistency between communication devices and often, the device is not outfitted with any supports to allow the victim to effectively report, answer questions, or narrate in their own communication style. Our proposed solution will offer a level of equity to a population that is currently excluded from the criminal justice system, which only elevates the rate of victimization and vulnerability. Many individuals have a critical need to do so immediately but are currently unable to due to the lack of imagery, spoken vocabulary, and written text available to them on their communication aids.