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District’s Language Access Program Highlights Efforts and Innovative Resources in Fiscal Year 2019 Report

Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Compliance scorecards rate agencies’ success in implementing language access

CONTACT: Stephanie Franklin, Director of Communications & Community Engagement 202.679.5785; [email protected]

 

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, the District’s Language Access Program (LAP), housed at the Office of Human Rights (OHR), announced the release of the Fiscal Year 2019 Language Access Annual Compliance Review. The Program aims to eliminate linguistic barriers and ensure all District agencies have the tools, capacity and technical knowledge to serve Limited and Non-English Proficient (LEP/NEP) workers, business owners and residents. 

“This year we've been reminded us of how fortunate we are in the District to have over 15 years of experience and infrastructure around Language Access” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Although this report looks back at our efforts in 2019, it is a testament to how far we’ve come in a year and offers us a baseline and an opportunity to continuously refine our service and information delivery and strengthen our connection to our linguistically diverse neighbors and communities across the city.”

Highlights from the FY19 Compliance Review include:

  • Compliance achievements and reporting for 38 covered entities with major public contact and 23 non-major public contact entities detailing performance level of preparedness, accessibility and quality in serving clients
  • 183,387 encounters with LEP/NEP customers across agencies
  • Language Access compliance training for 41, 040 District government employees, including contractor and grantee staff
  • 73,277 calls made by frontline employees to reach a telephone interpreter to communicate with customers speaking 66 different languages
  • Translation of 830 vital documents by agencies with major public contact

Currently, the District is home to nearly 100,000 foreign-born individuals with 30.8% of  foreign-born residents age 5 or older having limited English proficiency. With the rise of the coronavirus pandemic this year, city agencies have continued to innovate around improving access to critical information and service to their linguistically diverse residents and customers and providing interpretation services and translated documents and information on agency websites, including coronavirus.dc.gov.

“In a fast-paced, digital age it is easy for us to lose sight of the significance of inclusivity and information equity” said OHR Interim Director Michelle Garcia. “Though technology brings us closer to our diverse communities through translation software and widgets, we understand that a human touch through use of live interpreters and culturally-sensitive professional translators truly makes the difference, most especially in a global city during a global pandemic and every day in between.”

At the top of Fiscal Year 2021, the LAP will continue working with agencies to build a roadmap towards accessibility with their Biennial Language Access Plans — a two-year document forecasting committed agency resources to embedding linguistic equity and inclusion into the fabric of the agency’s services, initiatives and programs.

For more details on individual agency compliance in FY19 and language access implementation, visit ohr.dc.gov/page/languageaccess/2019report.

 

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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.

 

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