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The Ordinance, among other things, requires city information and services be provided in every language that is represented by 10,000 people or more in the city at the same level that information and services are provided to English speakers. The ordinance requires the hiring of bilingual staff in public contact positions. However, the ordinance divides the implementation into two phases divided by department. The ordinance establishes an in house translation service for translating written materials and providing translation for public meetings. The ordinance requires that every department maintain a telephonic recording in every language represented by 10,000 people or more in the city contain information about the department's operations. The ordinance establishes a complaint process and a compliance plan to be completed by the City Manager each year.
The model ordinance centralizes the responsibility for promoting language access in city government in the Office of Neighborhood Engagement (ONE). The ordinance grants ONE increased funds to implement plans to hire multilingual employees. It also appoints ONE to collect the language-access surveys from each of the city's department's in order to analyze the surveys and present the finding to the City Council nine months after the survey process begins. ONE will also receive increase funding to translate written materials that provide vital information to LEP persons about municipal government services. Under the model ordinance, complaints will be collected through an online form prepared by the Chief Administrative Office. The form will be available in Spanish and Vietnamese online. Within the Chief Administrative Office, the Office of Performance Accountability would be charged with reporting the complaints to the respective departments within a week of the complaints being filed. The ordinance also prioritizes departments that offer emergency-related services and guarantees due process for LEP persons.
The act requires that District government programs, departments, and services assess the need for, and offer, oral language services; provide written translations of documents into any non-English language spoken by a limited or no-English proficient population that constitutes 3% or 500 individuals, whichever is less, of the population served or encountered, or likely to be served or encountered; to ensure that District government programs, departments, and services with major public contact establish and implement a language access plan and designate a language access coordinator; to require that the Office of Human Rights coordinate and supervise District government programs, departments, and services in complying with the provisions of this act and establish the position of Language Access Director for this purpose; and to amend the District of Columbia Latino Community Development Act and to repeal the Bilingual Services Translation Act of 1977 to repeal redundant provisions
The ordinance requires City Departments to offer written materials in languages besides English if a substantial or concentrated portion of the public utilizing their services does not speak English effectively because it is not their primary language.
This Language Access Ordinance: requires the development of language services protocols in crisis situations; creates the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs' responsibilities; requires all City departments to comply with the minimal requirements set forth in this ordinance'; expands the number of City departments that must comply with the ordinance in its entirety; requires all City departments to inform limited English Speaking Persons of their rights under the ordinance; and requires all City Boards, City Commissions, and City Departments to translate meeting minutes.
Citywide Policy of Language Access to Ensure the Effective Delivery of City Services
The attached Model Campus Safe Zones Resolution language was developed for K-12 school districts that are contemplating adopting protections for their immigrant students. We recommend that any resolution contain language to address these critical issues: Limiting the sharing of student and family information with federal immigration Authorities, Restricting immigration agents' access to campuses, Prohibiting campus security from collaborating with federal immigration authorities, Providing resources and information for immigrant students and their families. The model resolution provides sample language for these issues. We encourage you to use this language as a template and to adopt as many pieces to fit the needs of your school district. We also encourage you to add additional points beyond what is in this resolution and to share your creative and innovative ideas with us.
This report offers a review of D.C.'s failure to implement the D.C. Language Access Act. The D.C. Language Access Act was enacted improve non-English proficient resident's access to translation and interpretation services at municipal entities. The report makes several recommendations to improve implementation and enforcement of the act.