CONTACT: Stephanie Franklin, Director of Communications & Community Engagement; [email protected]
OHR Highlights Milestones in Language Access with Fiscal Year 2018 Compliance Review
Annual review shares District-wide language access accomplishments
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, the District’s Language Access Program (Program), housed in the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR), released its FY 2018 Annual Compliance Review. The report provides an overview and analysis of citywide efforts to create equal access for individuals with limited or non-English proficiency and to meet the requirements of the DC Language Access Act of 2004. Roughly 34 percent of foreign-born District residents ages five or older are limited-English proficient. In a little under a year, the District’s foreign-born residents grew to 14.7 percent or 102,000 people, an increase of 1.2 percent.
“We are proud of our rich cultural diversity in the District but we are still faced with xenophobic and hateful national rhetoric. Our progress in providing limited English speakers and recently arrived immigrants full and equitable access demonstrates our commitment to remaining a welcoming city safe and accessible to all” said OHR Director Mónica Palacio. “This year we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Language Access statute and while we have more work to do I am very proud of the work of OHR and our partners across the District.”
The report highlights the work of the Language Access Program, summarizes the compliance profile of 23 District agencies with newly-appointed Language Access points of contact that spearhead the work, and contains individual compliance scorecards for 38 agencies that have major public contact with linguistically-diverse communities in DC. The report points to progress and the areas where improvement is still needed. Secret-shopper field tests conducted in partnership with the Equal Rights Center concluded that only 50 percent of agencies improved in making interpretation services available for clients from FY17 to FY18.
“This report speaks to the many improvements made across the board by District Government to ensure limited-English proficient residents can access services, programs, and vital documents in their language,” said Language Access Director Rosa Carrillo. “In the coming years, the Program will continue its commitment to help agencies strengthen their practices and policies to create a more welcoming environment for immigrants and maximize their opportunities to access the city’s growing prosperity.”
The report further details specific steps agencies are taking to provide translation and interpretation services that allow limited-English proficient individuals to access services in their native language. In FY18, District agencies collectively reported over 180,000 encounters with limited-English proficient individuals who spoke 69 different languages. Based on agency encounters with customers, the top-ten languages served were: Spanish, Amharic, French, Mandarin, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Tigrigna, Korean, and Arabic. Additionally, 75,844 calls were made to access a telephonic interpreter, agencies translated roughly 694 vital documents into Spanish, Amharic, French, Chinese, and 6 other languages spoken by their customers, and more than 6,475 District employees, including contractors or grantee staff received language access compliance and/or cultural competency training.
For detailed information on the District’s FY18 language access implementation efforts, compliance scorecards of 38 District agencies, and to download the report, visit ohr.dc.gov/page/languageaccess/2018report.
About the Language Access Act
The purpose of the Language Access Act is to provide access and participation in public services, programs and activities for the District’s limited and non-English proficient constituents at a level equal to that of English proficient individuals. All District government agencies, divisions or programs – including government contractors and grantees that provide services to the public – are covered under this Act.
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.