Language access

Session 1

This session is focused on exploring why language access is important to your organization and how it relates to your mission. The outcome of this session is the development or review of the foundation for the overall plan.

Discuss these five questions among the group
  1. What are the benefits of increasing language access for our constituency?
  2. What is the impact of not having language access? (Discuss the impact at multiple levels: for survivors, advocates working in your organization, overall community.) 
  3. What are our concerns about increasing language access?
  4. How can a Language Access Plan help alleviate those concerns?
  5. As a recipient of federal funds, what is our obligation to provide language access?

Recording the highlights of your discussion can be helpful in enhancing the key messages that you will need for the Language Access Plan and to communicate with other staff about the plan.

Now you can draft or enhance four key pieces of your Language Access Plan. Sample language is available on the Language access plan template:

  1. Purpose – Why is this kind of policy important to your organization? How does language access connect to/further your mission?
    1. Feel free to use some of the key points of your discussion of question 1 (above) in this section. (See sample language in the Language access plan template, Section 1A: Connection to mission.)
  2. General Policy Statement – What is your organization’s policy regarding serving individuals with limited English proficiency? (See sample language in the Language access plan template, Sec. 2: General policy statement.)
  3. Authority – What regulations or laws require this kind of policy from your organization? (See sample language in the Language access plan template, Sec. 2A purpose and authority.)
  4. Define any key terms necessary for understanding or implementing the Plan – This can be a first step, as more terms may be added throughout the process. (See sample language in the Language access plan template, Sec. 6 Definitions.)

Keep in mind that you are drafting changes to your Language Access Plan, which may include changes to organizational policy, budgets, and other key material. This draft will need to be reviewed by your organizational leadership, program staff, etc.

Work to be completed before Session 2

There are some key pieces of information that you will need for the discussion that you will have during Session 2. We recommend splitting up the work among the team members, or asking a volunteer or intern for help if possible.

  1. What language access services do you already provide?
    1. Who are you already serving? (Review the last 1-3 years of program records or interview key program staff about services requested by and provided to individuals with limited English proficiency.)
    2. What types of language access do you already offer? (Language Line access, translated brochures, bilingual staff, etc.) 
  1. Who in your community is likely to request language access services from your organization?
    1. Conduct a Community language assessment to identify prominent languages spoken in your area.