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A Commitment to Language Access
May 8th, 2012 Posted by

Success of the Department’s mission depends on accurate communication with members of the public, regardless of their level of English proficiency.

The Justice Department released revised policies that will enhance the ability to communicate effectively with limited English proficient (LEP) individuals.  The release of the revised Departmental Language Access Plan is the latest in a series of steps taken to recommit the department to the language access principles of Executive Order 13166

Over the last sixteen months, the Civil Rights Division and the Justice Management Division led an internal Language Access Working Group focused on identifying and overcoming language barriers in department programs and activities.  The working group, consisting of representatives from each department component, was tasked by Attorney General Holder to create and implement language access plans for each component, including a department-wide plan. 

The Federal Coordination and Compliance Section of the Civil Rights Division, which is charged with government-wide enforcement of Executive Order 13166, assisted each component with assessing its ability to provide meaningful access to LEP individuals and drafted policies and plans to enhance their ability to communicate effectively with LEP individuals.  In fact, thirty-one department agencies have created language access plans or policy statements.

Many of these language access plans and documents will be posted online in the coming weeks.

Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division noted the department’s progress:

“The department’s language access plan is a big step towards ensuring equal access to all individuals. We welcome feedback and will continue to engage the LEP community and other stakeholders to help ensure that the policies are implemented in a manner consistent with department principles.”

Lee Lofthus, the Assistant Attorney General for Administration also commented on the language access plans:

 “I am pleased with the progress we’ve made in our ability to work more effectively with the LEP community. We will continue to look for efficient and effective ways to enhance our efforts in this important area.”

Feedback will inform the working group and individual components as they establish protocols and procedures to implement the department plans. Please submit your comments to DOJLAWG@usdoj.gov .

The department will continue to support cost-saving or cost-sharing initiatives aimed at maximizing Department resources.  We believe that the key to overcoming language barriers is finding practical and cost-effective systems to deliver high-quality language assistance services.

For more information, or to view the department’s language access plans, visit: http://www.justice.gov/open/language-access.html

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