The Language Access (LA) Program exists to ensure District residents who are limited or non-English proficient are afforded equal access to information and services provided by the District. Residents who speak little English must be offered interpretation services and/or translated documents when obtaining government services, as required by the Language Access Act of 2004. The LA Program staff engage in extensive community outreach, provide training and technical support to District agencies working with LEP/NEP residents, and measure the effectiveness of agencies in serving such populations by examining resource allocation and service delivery.
Through its enforcement authority, the LA Program works under the auspices of OHR to investigate complaints claiming access to information or government services were denied. The Language Access Director reports directly to the Director of the Office of Human Rights and works in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office on African Affairs (OAA), the Mayor's Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (OAPIA), the Mayor's Office on Latino Affairs (OLA), and with the DC Language Access Coalition.
For more information on the program and Act, please refer to the following links:
- File a Language Access Public Complaint Online
- Complaint Process & Timeline [PDF]
- Find a Language Access Coordinator
- Language Access Act Regulations
- View Data Sources for Demographic Data on the District's LEP Populations
- Find a Bilingual Job Vacancy with the District Government
- Read OHR Reports on Translation/Interpretation "Certification" Programs
- Regulations for the Language Access Act (updated September 2014)
- Interpreter's Oath Document [PDF]
- Contact the LA Program Director Winta Teferi (email)
"I Speak" Cards
In order to ensure that any limited English or non-English speaking resident receives equal access to services, the DC Office of Human Rights Language Access program provides "I Speak" Cards that direct government employees to provide such assistance. OHR encourages those who speak limited or no English to obtain the appropriate card for their language and carry it with them.
The cards are available by download or by visiting our Office at 441 4th Street NW, Suite 570N. Language-specific cards are also available at the: Office on African Affairs (Amharic/አማርኛ & French/Français), Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (Chinese/中文, Korean/한국어 & Vietnamese/tiếng Việt) and Office on Latino Affairs (Spanish/Español).
Know Your Rights Campaign
The Know Your Rights campaign aims to raise awareness among limited or non-English proficient residents about requesting an interpretor when accessing District government services. The latest Know Your Rights campaign was lauched in late August 2012 and consists of three parts. The (1) "I Speak" cards are a tool to help those with limited or no English to access government services, the (2) television and print advertisements are aimed at raising awareness in target communities, and (3) training and outreach to District agencies and direct service providers intends to increase knowledge about interpretations services.
Annual Compliance Reports
OHR is required to annually report progress of Language Access Act enforcement to the Mayor and the Council of the District of Columbia. The report includes compliance summaries and status of each District agency identified by name in the Act and/or through regulation. Additionally, the Director reports policy recommendations, where necessary, for District agencies.
Issued for DC residents, the report consists of data accumulated during the District's fiscal year. Select the link below to view the current report:
Report: Ten Years of Language Access in Washington, DC
To commemorate the 10 year annivesary of the DC Language Access Act in April 2014, our office commissioned a report from the Urban Institute to reflect on 10 years of implementation and make recommendations on how to further improve government services for those who are limited and non-English proficient (LEP/NEP). The report, released in April 2014, along with input from government agencies and community advocates will help guide the Language Access Program as it continues to strive to provide equal services to LEP/LEP people. Learn more or download the report.