Language access refers to the language barriers that limit Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals access to government services that do not provide interpretative services or translated materials.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandates that no person shall be discriminated against based on their nation of origin — which includes a person’s inability to speak English. Any agency that receives any form of government funding must comply or risk a Department of Justice investigation and possible revocation of funds.
The Language Access Project has focused on agencies providing educational, health, housing, law enforcement, community center and legal-related services to the local immigrant, noncitizen and refugee community. By identifying which agencies are not compliant with Title VI, the HRAP can assist service providers in updating their existing plans and procedures — which in turn will result in the Louisville immigrant, noncitizen and refugee community having better access to much-needed resources.
From the report's introduction:
"This report examines the right to meaningful language access in the United States. Additionally, it will provide a framework for entities to self-identify whether or not they are required to provide language access by Federal law. Finally, it will describe the Federal requirements to providing language access, including defining meaningful language access and providing information on the written language access plan.
"The Brandeis Human Rights Advocacy Program (HRAP) at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law performed a community survey of entities in Louisville, Kentucky to assess the level of language access available to LEP individuals while seeking basic community resources. This report will also highlight the findings of the survey, which revealed a general deficiency in the knowledge of the requirements of Title VI and irregular language access resources provided by entities. This report serves as a larger mission of the HRAP to provide resources to assist community service providers in better serving the needs of the immigrant, noncitizen, and refugee populations."