Frequently Asked Questions
What is meaningful language access?
To provide meaningful language access, an agency must evaluate all of the points of contact with the public and provide service in a person's language in all of your communications.
Language access means providing people with limited English proficiency (LEP) with access to services regardless of their level of English proficiency. To provide language access, an agency uses language services (interpreters and translators) to bridge the communication barrier.
A few examples:
If you provide a language line for staff to communicate by phone, you should also arrange an interpreter for the next encounter with a client.
If you translate a flyer into Spanish, the event should be bilingual or offered in Spanish.
If you provide services in Spanish, you should also have a resource to assist people who speak other languages.
Meaningful access allows all people to receive the same services, regardless of their language preference.
Why should we provide meaningful language access?
First, under federal law (Title IV of the Civil Rights Act), any entity that receives federal financial assistance must provide free, meaningful language access to those with limited English proficiency.
Second, if you don’t provide access in a person’s primary language, any consequences that arise because the person did not understand may be a liability for your agency. In serious cases, you may face fines or a lawsuit.
Finally, it’s the right thing to do - we all want to make sure we are serving the entire community; it makes our job easier; and it ensures that your communication is accurate, ethical, and impartial.
What is a language access plan?
A language access plan is like any other policy in your agency, put into place to ensure that your personnel are on the same page about language access policy and procedures.
Your language access plan maps out how you will serve limited English proficient individuals, establishing a long term and consistent process for your agency.
The plan consists of three parts:
1. A policy blueprint that identifies how and why your agency will ensure meaningful access
for LEP individuals
2. A plan that outlines tasks, establishes deadlines, identifies responsible personnel, and
prioritizes steps in the process
3. Procedures for how to access language services, standards for your services, and
The process of creating a language access plan allows you to assess your current resources, identify points of contact with the limited English proficient population, gather information from stakeholders, set goals for improvement, and draft a written policy.
How can Deep South LCI help you improve language access in your agency?
We guide you through the process of creating your language access plan from start to finish,
using an expert facilitator who is familiar with language access law and policies, the use of
language services, and language access training.
This process allows you to assess your strengths and existing resources, identify gaps in service, gather data and information from stakeholders, draft your plan, and begin staff training and implementation of your language access plan.
We map out steps and customize the process based on your needs, timeline, and decision making process, starting with an initial free consultation.
I’m not sure we are ready to create a plan. Can you help us figure out if we need a plan?
Absolutely! Every organization is different, and we personalize our services based on
We offer a free initial consultation, assistance with assessment, facilitation of a conversation
with your leadership, and language access presentations and training to help you decide what
steps your agency needs to take to improve access to your services.
I’m interested! What is the first step?
We would love to connect with you whether you are ready to move forward or unsure
where to start.