FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, September 3, 2014
CONTACT: Elliot Imse, Director of Policy and Communications – 202.481.3773; [email protected]
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) –The DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) today announced the completion of a yearlong initiative to provide critical service information in multiple languages on over 30 District government agency websites. Individuals who speak Amharic, Chinese, French, Korean, Spanish or Vietnamese are now able to access a description of core services using an in-language hyperlink featured near the bottom of each agency homepage. This achievement comes after the ten year anniversary of the passage of the DC Language Access Act, celebrated in April and June, and illustrates a continued citywide commitment to providing equal access to information and services to residents that speak little or no English.
“The new language-specific descriptions of agency services are a first step to creating greater virtual access for limited and non-English proficient residents who visit District government agency websites,” said OHR Director Mónica Palacio. “Many District agencies have shown a true commitment to providing services in multiple languages, and our Language Access Program will continue to assist these agencies in expanding the range of information and services available.”
To promote awareness of the language-specific pages, OHR has placed advertisements in local ethnic media outlets and alerted community partners who serve limited and non-English proficient residents. Additionally, DC Public Libraries plans to display the advertisements to ensure residents are aware of the changes. The advertisements can be seen at ohr.dc.gov/page/languageaccess/websiteads.
OHR Language Access Program Director Winta Teferi plans to continue working with the Office of the Chief Technology Officer in providing technical assistance to District agencies as they work to ensure their websites offer vital information and documents in multiple languages. Progress on this initiative will be provided in the Fiscal Year 2014 Language Access Annual Report to be released early next year.
For more information on the Language Access Program, visit ohr.dc.gov/page/languageaccess.
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 information or render 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.