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DC Office of Human Rights Celebrates Federal Government's Renewed Commitment to Language Access Obligations

Friday, March 4, 2011
Language Access valued at local and federal levels of government

In February, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memorandum reaffirming language access to the heads of federal agencies, general counsels, and civil rights division heads.  The memorandum reaffirms the mandates of former President Clinton’s Executive Order 13166 on language access and asks federal agencies to undertake several action items that are detailed in the memorandum.  The action items include establishing a language access working group, evaluating current language access services provided, and several other items.

The DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) enforces the DC Language Access Act of 2004. The legislation, like the federal regulation, was enacted to provide greater access and participation in public services, programs, and activities for residents of the District of Columbia with limited or no-English proficiency (LEP/NEP).  The Office of Human Rights, which administers the Language Access Program, provides oversight to District agencies in their implementation of the Language Access Act, ensures the provision of quality services to the LEP/NEP community at District agencies, as well as investigates public complaints regarding language access violations in the District. The Program works in consultation with a variety of government offices that conduct outreach and assess the need of communities including the Mayor’s Offices of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (OAPIA), Latino Affairs (OLA) and African Affairs (OAA). The Program also works with the DC Language Access Coalition (the “Coalition”)—an alliance of diverse community-based organizations working to ensure that civil rights of immigrant and LEP communities are protected by advocating for meaningful language access within the District.

OHR celebrates the federal government’s commitment to language access and continues to strive to ensure full implementation and compliance with the DC Language Access Act.