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Takeways from "Language Access Plans 101"April 7, 2017
Thank you to everyone who attended our workshop “Language Access Plans 101” this past Tuesday! We were happy to see so many professionals and the organizations they represent actively participating in discussions about language access.
During his presentation at the workshop, federal compliance expert Bruce Adelson delved into the complex legal requirements involved with providing quality language access to Limited English Proficient (LEP) and Deaf or Hard of Hearing people.
Many organizations fail to meet those legal requirements, and in recent years an ever-increasing number of language access cases have made their way into federal courtrooms. At the workshop, Adelson identified some of the major pitfalls that land organizations in front of a federal judge, including:
· National Origin Discrimination
· Failure to comply with anti-discrimination legal requirements included in Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other federal laws
· Failure to provide language assistance for patients’ and customers’ companions (spouses, children, parents, etc.)
· And failure to provide legally accessible content posted to websites and social media
But beyond addressing specific requirements for providing quality language assistance, the biggest takeaway from the workshop came towards the end of Adelson’s presentation. Discussing the complexity and various costs involved with ensuring that an organization is in compliance with federal language access law, he said: “Language access is not optional: you should consider it part of the cost of doing business.”
Although professionals and the organizations they work for have dozens of pressing concerns that might have a much more immediate impact on their ability to do business and remain financially solvent, because it’s required by law, language access is just as serious a concern as any of those issues. Language access also involves facilitating communications with customers and clients, the very foundation of conducting business successfully. It is absolutely essential that organizations develop a legally compliant language access plan and follow through with it via investment in communication technology, document translations, staff training and assessment, and the necessary combination of language services necessary to comply with the law.
During her presentation at the workshop, Bromberg’s President Jinny Bromberg provided attendees with information about those language services and explained how they fit into a comprehensive Language Access Plan. Along with a breakdown of services, she also discussed some of the most common mistakes organizations make when using those services – like using Google Translate to translate documents or asking interpreters to overstep their professional boundaries. Mistakes like those occur all too often in professional settings when organizations try to provide language services on their own without knowing how the law defines “meaningful language access.”
Ultimately, the workshop emphasized that investing in language access just makes good business sense. The amount that most organizations would need to spend annually on language assistance is much, much lower than the cost of hiring a lawyer to defend them against a discrimination lawsuit, or the cost of losing their federal financial assistance or subsidies because of discrimination.
But even if the repercussions for failing to invest in language access measures are serious, the process of ensuring your organization is in compliance with the law doesn’t need to be so stressful.
Bromberg is here to help every step of the way, from performing an initial compliance assessment to contracting interpreters and translating vital documents. Reach out today and we’ll be happy to guide you and your organization towards the security of knowing you’re on the path toward compliance with the law.