Guidelines: Federal Civil Rights Title VI law governing
Language Access Law: Gov.
Need to Reinvent the Wheel
bad news is that Sonoma County lags far behind in complying
with federal and state legal obligations to limited English-speakers.
The good news is there's no need to reinvent the wheel.
and tested 'Best Practices' documents abound for a full
range of circumstances and agencies. Included are 'language
access' agency policies, personnel trainings, protocols,
interpreter evaluation tests, bilingual recruitment plans,
needs assessment tools, monitoring tools, and more.
words to begin a web search are "language access"
and "lep" or "limited English proficiency".
Four Gateway Sites to Begin:
and Tools from the Field (Fed. Gov. Site)
Gov. 'Meaningful Access' Site
Office of Minority Health Language Access
Language Access Page
The Pillars of Language Access
Personnel - Bilingual certified personnel policy and
pay must be fair, otherwise these invaluable personnel
won't participate, as is the case now here in our county.
Competency testing should be up to standard. (The bilingual
test currently used by many county offices is a disgrace.)
Translators - At first glance, hiring professional
translators may seem a luxury. But think about it. It's
more like 'Buy One, Get One Free". When you hire
a professional translator you get back your bilingual
officer (who has been serving as a translator) for free.
Interpreter Banks - All public contact personnel should
have training in the use of, be given
the code of access to, and a written agency use-policy
for, a telephonic interpreter service.
Materials - Almost none of our local public agencies
are in compliance with legal requirements of having essential
materials printed in the major language groups of the
significant obstacle to proper language access in Sonoma
County is the failure of non bilingual public employees
to understand that language access is their legal obligation
too. No one can accept a salary that is paid for by all
the public - including by the non English-speaking public
- and then give services to only the English-speakers.
That's discrimination. It's illegal. And it's morally
personnel - bilingual or not - must know the agency bilingual
protocols, must be trained to use the means, and be given
the means, to fulfill their obligations to provide equal
services. And all supervisors, bilingual or not, must
monitor language access policy compliance.
You Can Do
the social benefits of a community that can fully communicate
with it's government! Consider all the costs to a community
that can't! Photocopy this page and give it out to public
or to non profits and health services that
receive government funds.