FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, October 17, 2014
CONTACT: Stephanie Franklin, Policy and Communications Officer – 202.727.1145; [email protected]
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) –The DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) is pleased to announce the release of newly amended regulations governing the DC Language Access Act of 2004 (the Act). This amendment will replace the existing Chapter 12 of Title 4 (§ 4-1200) of the District’s municipal regulations on Human Rights and Relations in its entirety and provide new guidance and greater clarity to District agencies and members of the public on implementation of the Act.
“We are excited to work with agencies and schools on these updated regulations, which further enhance our city’s ability to ensure limited and non-English proficient residents have equal access to services,” said OHR Language Access Program Director Winta Teferi. “The updates expand the number of major public contact agencies tasked with meeting additional and vital language access requirements, and clarifies procedures so customers are more likely to receive reliable information and effective services.” The Language Access Coalition, named as consultative partner in the Act, provided extensive feedback on these new regulations, and OHR wishes to acknowledge their ongoing role as partners and advocates in the community.
Additions to the regulations will strengthen implementation of language access, and include: new requirements for all covered entities in District government to assign a Language Access Point of Contact and report on all encounters with customers that speak little or no English as well as the designation of five new agencies who will now be required to adopt policies and plans for compliance under the law –DC Public Charter Schools, Department of Health Care Finance, Department of General Services, Office of the Attorney General Child Support Services Division and the Office of Administrative Hearings. Further changes include modifications to the administrative process for investigating language access complaints, and enhanced tracking measures to facilitate documentation of all inquires, resolutions, and docketed complaints received by OHR.
The new regulations come at the start of fiscal year 2015, when District agencies develop plans for greater language access preparedness and execution for customers that require language services. OHR will work closely with agencies and newly designated entities to provide targeted technical assistance and ensure they are compliant with the new regulations. Governmental and community-based partners, including the Mayor’s Offices on African, Asian & Pacific Islander, and Latino Affairs, as well as the DC Language Access Coalition will continue to assist OHR in educating the public on these changes.
For the full regulations and more information about the Language Access Program, visit http://ohr.dc.gov/page/regulations-language-access-act.
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 Language Access Program
The Language Access (LA) Program exists to ensure District residents who are limited and non-English proficient (LEP/NEP) are afforded equal access to information and services provided by the District. Residents who speak limited English must be offered interpretation services and/or translated documents when obtaining services, as required by the DC Language Access Act of 2004. The LA Program team engages in extensive community outreach, provides training and technical support to District agencies working with LEP/NEP residents, and measures the effectiveness of agencies in serving such populations by examining resource allocation and delivery.
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.