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Know Your Rights: Language Access

The DC Language Access Act obligates the DC government to provide equal access and participation in public services, programs, and activities for residents of the District of Columbia who cannot (or have limited capacity to) speak, read, or write English. 

If you request a service within DC government and you cannot speak, read, write or understand English, you have the right to: 

  • Request and receive interpreter services at no cost to you. 
  • Request and receive vital documents in your language at no cost to you. 
  • Make a complaint if denied any service at a DC government agency. 

OHR has created a bilingual “Know Your Rights” card in (6) different languages that informs individuals of their rights under the law. The card contains a detachable, wallet sized “I speak” card that states: “I speak ______. I need language assistance. Please make note of my spoken language in your records, as well as my need for an interpreter.” The purpose of the “I Speak” card is to eliminate language barriers that exist for LEP/NEP constituents when attempting to access District services. District personnel utilize the information on this card to secure the appropriate language resources, such as a bilingual employee or telephonic interpretation service, to assist the LEP/NEP individual in their language. 

Know Your Rights and "I Speak" Cards

In addition to implementing the “Know Your Rights” campaign, OHR has developed an aggressive community outreach plan working in partnership with the DC Language Access Coalition. OHR and the Coalition conduct community training at various community-based organizations which primarily serve the LEP/NEP population. The purpose of the training is to inform the staff directly of their rights and their clients’ rights under the law. The result is a strengthened tie between government and community and a more informed public. 

For additional information on the “Know Your Rights” cards, please contact Gabriel Rojo at (202) 727-4559 or by email.

Language Access Act Regulations [PDF]

DC Language Access Act of 2004 and Fact Sheet [PDF's]

English English
Amharic Amharic
Traditional Chinese Traditional Chinese
Korean Korean
Spanish Spanish
Vietnamese Vietnamese
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