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Forensic Interviews for Crime Victims with Disabilities a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA, New AACs Paper Says

April 25, 2023 / Forensic Interviews

Adult crime victims with disabilities can qualify for specialized forensic interviews as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to a new white paper published by the Adult Advocacy Centers (AACs). Forensic interviews have typically been reserved for children who have been victimized by crime as a trauma-informed way for law enforcement to gather information that may be admissible in court. The AACs’ white paper argues that adult crime victims with disabilities can also benefit from the accommodations, accessibility and trauma-informed practices such interviews can provide.

Currently, people with disabilities are nearly four times more likely to be victims of crime than people without disabilities. And while 47% of the violent crimes committed against people with disabilities are reported, in only 22% of these cases the alleged perpetrator is criminally charged and only 9% of those cases result in a conviction. One of the primary barriers to overcoming these inequities is a legal system that lacks the tools and training to work effectively with crime victims with disabilities. Providing forensic interviews for adult disabled crime victims and, additionally, training professionals across the country to perform these types of specialized interviews, are critical to providing equal access to our legal and justice systems.

“The AACs have been conducting specialized forensic interviews for victims of violent crime and neglect with all types of disabilities from around the country since 2019,” says Katherine Yoder, Executive Director of the AACs. “Our new white paper outlines the overwhelming need for these interviews on a wider scale. But, just as importantly, it also provides legal case examples that demonstrate how forensic interviews can increase prosecution rates and ultimately change the judicial system for the better. This should provide solid legal footing for those departments and agencies that might like to look toward implementing our forensic interview protocols.”

The AACs will host a webinar, in partnership with the Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council, to discuss this effort at 11 a.m. EDT, Thursday, May 4, 2023. The webinar is free and will include 60 minutes of discussion with 30 minutes to answer questions.