Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Language Acess Requirements

This important info comes from Debi Kadis and our friends at Syntes Language Group:

Hot off the press!

The federal government just sent a significant message about the pivotal role of language access in economic recovery as federal agencies get ready to distribute funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued an important reminder that all recipients of federal money, including private companies, must comply with Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which includes providing "language access for limited English proficient persons."

So, what does this mean for you and your organization? Here is some information to consider.

How do you determine what needs to be translated? The documents that should take priority and are considered vital are those that are required by law or are critical to obtaining services/products and benefits. Such documents include: applications, consent & complaint forms, and notices of rights and disciplinary action.

What about translation of website content? Website content also needs to be translated if it meets these same criteria. However, even if the content is on the web, the translated print material still needs to be made available as well.

How does this apply to interpreting? The obligation to provide meaningful opportunities to individuals with limited English proficiency is not restricted to written translations. Oral communication is often an essential component in imparting vital information to recipients. Foreign language interpreting may be required for such communication as proceedings, meetings, and consultations that involve the exchange of legal or other critical information.

What about enforcement and public pressure? Given this intensified focus on language access, increased media attention, public pressure, and legal enforcement will likely follow. What are the broader implications here? In addition to language access being tied to funding and legal issues, the broader underlying message is that language is a path to global competiveness, which extends to a greater recognition of domestic linguistic minorities.

Indeed, current research indicates that the US Hispanic market remains underserved by more than 40 percent. In addition, in a slow economy, many of the stronger US firms look abroad for opportunites and often get more of their revenue from outside of the United States. How can you get more information? To read more about language access as it relates to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, visit http://www.usdoj.gov/recovery. For more general information, visit LEP.gov, a government website designed to promote “a positive and cooperative understanding of the importance of language access.”

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