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Serving Victims' Language Needs

Language Provisions

Meaningful language access involves the coordination of many types of resources, services, tools, and technologies. It is critical to understand that language access means providing access not only when victims first seek services (e.g., hotline calls, hospital triage, 911 dispatch, at a primary physician's office), but also throughout their continuum of care. To underscore the importance of providing services, Executive Order 13166 requires federally conducted and assisted programs to take steps to improve access to their services for people with LEP.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Provisions for Persons with Limited English Proficiency

"No person in the United States shall, on ground of race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

The Office of Civil Rights further clarifies Title VI as it relates to persons with limited English proficiency. Specifically, providers should have reasonable steps in place for providing services and information in appropriate languages other than English to ensure that persons with limited English proficiency are effectively informed and can effectively participate in any benefit.

Source: T. Goode, S. Sockalingam, M. Brown, and W. Jones, 2000, Linguistic Competence in Primary Health Care Delivery Systems: Implications for Policy Makers, National Center for Cultural Competence.

Understanding and processing information can be challenging for victims who have LEP. To meet the diverse language needs in your jurisdiction, consider developing or expanding services to include—

  • Bilingual/bicultural materials.
  • Multilingual telecommunication systems.
  • Text telephone yoke (TTY).
  • Foreign language interpretation services.
  • Sign language interpretation services.
  • Media outreach (e.g., television, radio, newspapers, periodicals) in languages other than English.
  • Print materials in easy-to-read, low-literacy, picture and symbol formats.
  • Assistive technology devices.
  • Computer-assisted, real-time translation.
  • Materials in alternative formats (e.g., audiotape, Braille, enlarged print).
  • Certified interpreters.
  • Telephone voice mail menu in the languages most commonly encountered.

In addition, consider collaborating with court systems, immigrant organizations, refugee resettlement programs, and community colleges/universities to help plan for extended language services that meet your jurisdiction's specific language needs.