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OHR Launches Citywide Campaign on Language Access

Tuesday, August 28, 2012
“I Speak” Cards and PSAs in six languages assist non-English speakers


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, August 28, 2012


CONTACT:  Elliot Imse, Policy & Public Affairs Officer: 202.481.3773, [email protected]

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Language Access Program of the DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) is launching today an advertising campaign to assist District residents with limited or no English proficiency in accessing government services. The public service announcements aim to inform community members who speak Amharic, Chinese, French, Korean, Spanish or Vietnamese that District agencies are required to provide interpretation assistance in their native language.  OHR’s recently released wallet-sized “I Speak” cards to simplify this process by directing District employees to provide an interpreter to the community member in their spoken language.

“Our Language Access Program’s on-the-ground work with community advocates reveals the complications in accessing critical government services for those who speak limited or no English,” said OHR Director Gustavo Velasquez. “The ‘I Speak’ cards aim to make the connection between constituent and District services easier, as well as encourage those not fluent in English to contact the DC Office of Human Rights when interpretation services or translated materials are not made available.”

To promote the “I Speak” cards, OHR is airing television spots featuring community members that speak each of the six languages. Speaking in the native language, participants talk about the difficulties of not being English proficient, and explain that DC’s Language Access law makes government services more accessible. The ads also encourage viewers to obtain an “I Speak” card by visiting the Office of Human Rights (all languages), Office of African Affairs (Amharic & French), Office of Asian Pacific Islander Affairs (Chinese, Korean & Vietnamese) or Office of Latino Affairs (Spanish), or by downloading it on the OHR website.

“This campaign will reach thousands of DC residents who deserve access to District services,” said Mónica Palacio, Director of the Language Access Program. “I am confident the new ‘I Speak’ cards will help reduce the frustration that occurs when two people have difficulty communicating because of a language-barrier.  Anyone who is a limited English speaker or a non-English speaker should keep a card in their wallet.”


A partnership between OHR and the DC Language Access Coalition will ensure “I Speak” cards are distributed to District community members who most need them. The “I Speak” cards and accompanying television spots can be found on OHR’s website at OHR outreach to limited and non-English proficient residents will continue this fall with print ads promoting the “I Speak” cards in ethnic-based newspapers. 


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About the Language Access Program

The Language Access Program monitors and supports District Agency compliance with the Language Access Act of 2004.  The language access team provides training and technical support to all District agencies and works most closely with 34 District agencies designated as having the most contact with the public. The Language Access Program is housed within the Office of Human Rights. For more information, please contact Language Access Director Mónica Palacio at (202) 727-3942 or [email protected].

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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