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OHR Releases 2013 Language Access Compliance Review

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

OHR Releases 2013 Language Access Compliance Review

Highlights changing demographics and agencies’ sustained progress towards compliance

CONTACT: Elliot Imse, Director of Policy & Communications – 202.481.3773; elliot.imse@dc.gov

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The DC Office of Human Rights Language Access (LA) Program today released its Annual Compliance Review summarizing the performance of 33 District government agencies under the requirements of the DC Language Access Act of 2004. The report is the last compliance assessment before the LA Program’s benchmark ten-year anniversary in April, and touches on the shifting demographic landscape of the District over the last decade.

“The District’s immigrant population has steadily grown since the Language Access Act was passed ten years ago,” said OHR Acting Director Mónica Palacio. “Our office will continue to support agencies in building their capacity to interact with limited English and non-English speaking communities, and I am confident the District will have much to be proud of on the program’s ten-year anniversary in April.”

The LA Program observed a 30 percent increase in agencies with high performance marks this year, indicating a concerted effort among many agencies to meet a majority of the requirements set out in the LA Act. Additionally, the LA Program in collaboration with the District Office of the Chief Technology Officer, launched a Website Language Support initiative to ensure service information is available in multiple languages on websites for the 33 agencies assessed in the report.

To assist agencies in meeting the requirements of the LA Act, the LA Program held over 50 training sessions reaching more than 2,000 District government employees in fiscal year 2013. These trainings helped front-line customer service staffs practice how to properly respond to the needs of limited and non-English proficient customers. The LA Program also worked with OHR staff to launch the Immigrants Contribute campaign, which featured eight immigrants and their stories in an effort to highlight the contributions of immigrants to the District.

More information about the work of the Language Access Program is available in the Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Compliance Review of Language Access in the District, which is available for download at ohr.dc.gov/languageaccess/2013report. The Immigrants Contribute campaign can be seen at ohr.dc.gov/wecontribute.

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About the Language Access Program

The Language Access (LA) Program exists to ensure District residents who are limited and non-English proficient (LEP/NEP) are afforded equal access to information and services provided by the District. Residents who speak limited English must be offered interpretation services and/or translated documents when obtaining services, as required by the DC Language Access Act of 2004. The LA Program team engages in extensive community outreach, provides training and technical support to District agencies working with LEP/NEP residents, and measures the effectiveness of agencies in serving such populations by examining resource allocation and delivery.

About the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights

The District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) was established to eradicate discrimination, increase equal opportunity and protect human rights for persons who live in or visit the District of Columbia. The agency enforces local and federal human rights laws, including the DC Human Rights Act, by providing a legal process to those who believe they have been discriminated against. OHR also proactively enforces human rights in the District through Director’s Inquiries, which allow it to identify and investigate practices and policies that may be discriminatory.