FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, April 7, 2016
District’s Language Access Program Highlights Efforts and Innovative Resources in Fiscal Year 2015 Report
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Compliance scorecards rate agencies’ success in implementing language access
CONTACT: Elliot Imse, Director of Policy and Communications – 202.481.3773; [email protected]
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Language Access Program, housed within the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR), today released its Annual Compliance Review for fiscal year 2015, highlighting the progress made in ensuring limited and non-English proficient (LEP/NEP) people receive quality customer service from District agencies. While 2014 focused on drawing lessons from the 10 years the Language Access Act has been in effect, fiscal year 2015 saw the implementation of those ideas, resulting in enhanced resources, increased efficiencies and improved data collection. These improvements now allow OHR to provide effective technical assistance to covered agencies with major public contact, including five agencies newly designated as covered entities with major public contact.
“Based on feedback from residents, agencies, and advocates, this year the Language Access Program invested in creating resources for limited and non-English proficient customers and tools for agencies to ensure all people receive the quality service they deserve,” said OHR Director Mónica Palacio. “We are proud of these efforts and will continue to work with agencies and their language access teams to build on these successes in the year ahead.”
Among the new resources provided is an online Language Access Portal that provides members of the public and agency language access teams with resources, best practices, and instructions on how to serve LEP/NEP customers and meet their needs. An online reporting database was also launched so agencies can better track contact with LEP/NEP customers, and collect the data necessary to improve language access for those customers. And over 1,325 District employees were trained by the Program and more than 2,500 employees trained by in-agency language access teams.
The report also assesses the language access compliance of 33 District agencies in the areas of preparedness, accessibility and quality of service. Agencies reported more than 204,000 encounters with LEP/NEP customers through phone calls and in-person visits, and translated more than 1,040 vital documents in fiscal year 2015.
More details about individual agency compliance and language access implementation are available in the 2015 Annual Compliance Review at ohr.dc.gov/page/languageaccess/2015report.
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.