Language access

Session 3

Purpose: This is the session where the enhancements to your current Plan really start to come together. This is a working session where specific goals, strategies and timelines will be proposed.

Create a plan for improvement (services, outreach, systems change)

There is no “one size fits all” standard for meaningful access. Rather, it is program-specific “reasonable steps” based upon careful analysis of the four factors identified in a US Department of Justice guidance document developed for all recipients of federal funds:

  1. The number or proportion of survivors with LEP eligible to be served or likely to be encountered by your program.
  2. The frequency with which survivors with LEP come in contact with your program.
  3. The nature and importance of the program, activity or service provided by the organization to people’s lives.
  4. The resources available to your program and the costs associated with providing language access.

This framework is helpful in reviewing the ideas that the team has researched in preparation for this session. You will want to review strategies developed for immediate implementation and long-term change as well.

The details of “how” the plan will be implemented do not necessarily need to be outlined at this moment, as some of those details should be the job of program managers or staff who oversee specific programs. However, you will want to create the space to discuss how to make progress on the plan so that the implementation of the plan will actually happen. Record the decisions made during this discussion in “Section 4: Monitoring” of the language access template.

Develop or enhance the annual plan review process/protocol

Consider establishing an annual review of your plan. Include in your Language Access Plan a built-in process by which you will monitor the plan’s implementation and effectiveness. For example:

  • Check to see how demographics may have changed in your service area.
  • How well do staff know and implement the Language Access Plan? Review your staff training, for example:
    • Do staff have opportunities to raise concerns and challenges?
    • Do staff have opportunities to strategize on the more difficult issues, such as identifying unfamiliar languages and responding to pressures on bilingual staff to serve as interpreters for other systems?
    • Are you training new staff as they are hired, and providing refresher trainings for all staff as circumstances change or new tools or resources are identified?
  • Consider the following questions to help identify your plan’s results and impacts:
    • How has your plan affected services?
    • How did you respond to language needs as they arose?
    • How do you address unexpected languages?
    • How have survivors with LEP experienced the services they received? Were the services readily accessible?
  • How are you progressing on the longer-term capacity-building elements of your plan, such as fundraising, ensuring survivor satisfaction, developing strategic partnerships, etc.?
  • What should you adapt or change for the next year?

Collect the input of staff, survivors with LEP, and community partners engaged in your Language access plan. Use listening sessions, surveys, and other feedback tools to gather information. Use your self-assessment tools to document this evaluation information in a familiar, usable format.

Record your monitoring plan in the Language access plan template, Section 4: Monitoring

Work to be completed after Session 3

Either divide up the work to update the sections of your existing Plan among the team members or select one staff person to develop one full document. Set a deadline for the updates to be made and reviewed by the team.

Present the draft to key staff (advocates, supervisors, management, fund development, etc.) to ensure feasibility, realistic timelines, and to increase the buy-in for implementation. 

See implementation section for connecting the plan to budgeting, fund development, supervision, etc. Once your plans are well developed, you may need to engage your Board of Directors. Provide a brief training on language access issues (including the legal responsibility to provide language access), include revenue and expenses related to enhancing your language access practices into the budget, and obtain commitment from the members to raise the necessary funds to support this effort.