Department Policy 9.8 Communicating With People With Limited English Proficiency

Created April 2010
Revised August 2013
Approved by Karin McGowan, Interim Executive Director, August 2013
 
Summary
This policy implements the standards of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including the policy guidance, “Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons.”
 
In accordance with the language of the policy, people who do not speak English as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read, speak, write or understand English are defined as “limited English proficient.” The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shall take steps necessary to ensure people with limited English proficiency have meaningful access and an equal opportunity to participate fully in its services, activities, programs or other benefits. This policy is applicable any time a person with limited English proficiency seeks services from the department.
 
Policy
The department is dedicated to diversity and the provision of its services to all Coloradans. Individuals with limited English proficiency are entitled to equal opportunity and meaningful access to services, activities and other department benefits. To effectively meet the needs of such individuals, the department has adopted a centralized model to readily provide staff access to professional interpretation and translation services. The purpose of this model is to help promote health equity and environmental justice by providing meaningful access to programs and services for people with limited English proficiency by:
  • Reducing the language barrier.
  • Improving customer service.
  • Creating greater efficiencies for department staff.
  • Providing higher-quality communications for linguistically diverse audiences.
The department will take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to services for people with limited English proficiency. It is the responsibility of the appointing authority for each division to make staff aware of this policy and implement it in his or her division.
 
All department contracts will include the contractor’s obligations to comply with Title VI limited English proficiency requirements.
 
The Office of Health Equity is the delegated authority for overseeing, monitoring and updating this policy.
 
Recipients of federal financial assistance have an obligation pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to reduce language barriers that can preclude meaningful access by people with limited English proficiency to important benefits, rights, programs, information and services. The starting point is an individualized assessment that balances the following four factors, referred to as the Four Factor Analysis:
  1. Number or proportion of people with limited English proficiency served or encountered in the eligible service population.
Programs shall maintain records of the number or proportion of people with limited English proficiency who seek services from the program. The greater the number or proportion of people with limited English proficiency from a particular language group served by the program, the more likely that language services are needed. The determination is specific to the program the individual person seeks to access, rather than attributed to the department as a whole.
  1. Frequency with which people with limited English proficiency come in contact with the program.
How often people with limited English proficiency seek services from a program must be considered in determining whether to provide language services. The more frequent the contact with a particular language group, the more likely that services in that language are needed. The reasonable steps for a program that serves a person with limited English proficiency on a one-time basis will be different from those for a program that serves people with limited English proficiency daily.
  1. Nature and importance of the program, activity or service.
Programs should consider the importance and/or urgency of the activity undertaken, such as provision of immediate health-related or vital records services or enforcement of a regulatory requirement through a formal administrative action. The more important or urgent the service, the greater the need to provide enhanced language services. The timing of the provision of services can hinge upon how vital the activity is to the client. For example, if the information to be provided is important but not urgent, the program may provide services within a reasonable period of time, rather than on an emergency basis.
  1. Resources available to the program and costs.
Programs should explore the most cost-effective means of delivering competent and accurate language services before limiting services due to resource constraints. If language services are denied, program staff members shall document the reason(s) and communicate this to their division director. All records pursuant to this policy shall be retained according to department and relevant division records retention policies.
 
You may contact the department’s Language Services coordinator to assist you with planning and best approaches for meeting this policy’s requirements. In addition, several important guidance documents may be helpful in interpreting and applying the federal limited English proficiency requirements:
  • Language Access Assessment and Planning Tool for Federally Conducted and Federally Assisted Programs –  May 9, 2011
  • Common Language Access Questions, Technical Assistance, and Guidance for Federally Conducted and Federally Assisted Programs –  Aug. 15, 2011
  • Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons (Revised HHS Limited English Proficient Guidance)  –  Jan. 6, 2004
  • Guidance to Environmental Protection Agency Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons
  • National Standards on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health
  • The Department of Health and Human Services, Language Access Plan 2013
 
Procedures for Accessing Centralized Language Services
The procedures outlined below are intended to promote effective communication with individuals regarding their public health and environmental services. In addition, the procedures provide guidance for ensuring communication of information contained in vital documents including but not limited to waivers of rights; consent to treatment forms; and program documents, which include licensing instruction, financial and insurance benefit forms, etc. The relevant program shall provide language services at no cost to the person being served.
 
The department generally shall not rely on staff, family members of the person being served, friends or other ad hoc interpreters to provide interpretation or translation services, except in circumstances where temporary assistance by these individuals may be necessary until an interpreter can be secured.
 
Available Language Services
Telephonic (Over-the-Phone) Interpreters – Employees have access to telephonic interpretation. The state of Colorado has signed a Participating Addendum to the Western States Contracting Alliance agreement for over-the-phone interpretation. This agreement has no setup fees, monthly maintenance fees, or minimum minute requirements. It is a pay-per-use service billed directly to each division, per minute, for any of the provided languages. Telephonic interpretation provides on-demand access to professional interpreters in more than 200 languages 24 hours per day, seven days per week. To access an interpreter over the phone, contact the language services coordinator for your division’s access and dialing codes.
 
On-Site (Live) Interpreters – Employees have access to on-site (live) interpreters for individual or group meetings, in addition to interpreter conference equipment. All on-site interpreter requests should be submitted to the Language Services coordinator and follow the same process and billing as translation requests. (See process below.) All on-site interpreter requests will be contracted out to professional interpretation providers that follow national interpretation standards, code of ethics and interpreter training. Cost for on-site interpreters varies by request depending on language requested and scheduling (day and time). Programs will be responsible for covering all on-site interpreter costs.
 
Translation (Written Communication) – All translation requests including editing or reviewing documents for languages other than English should be submitted to the Language Services coordinator. (See process below.) Requests include translation of materials, editing, review and quality assurance of documents of various size and scope in languages other than English. All translation projects will be contracted out to professional translation vendors. Programs will be responsible for covering all translation costs.
 
Roles and Responsibilities
Division staff - Notice must be publicly provided regarding available language access services for people with limited English proficiency. Notices may include, but are not limited to, signs posted in public areas, literature distributed to the public, telephone scripts for the department staff, Internet notices, etc.
 
Employees seeking centralized language services must ensure the accuracy, completeness and reference sources for each project/request. Staff also must ensure materials to be translated are finalized before the scope of work with the translation vendor is submitted.
 
All requests for centralized language services shall follow the process outlined below.
 
It is the responsibility of the appointing authority in each division to ensure all staff members are aware of the standards of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, including the policy guidance, “Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons.” Training is required for new employees and when there are changes to this policy.
 
All records pursuant to this policy shall be retained according to department and division records retention policies.
 
Language Services Coordinator - The Language Services coordinator shall develop and provide training to all divisions on language access services.
The Language Services coordinator shall, upon receipt of a request for language services, ensure the necessary services are provided in accord with the process set forth below.
 
Process
  1. Contact the Language Services coordinator with the purpose, scope and timeline of the interpretation or translation request.
  2. After receiving the request, the Language Services coordinator will acknowledge receipt of the request and provide follow-up to the request within approximately three business days. This may include a personal meeting to discuss the project further.
  3. Based on the information received, the Language Services coordinator will draft the scope of work for the translation or on-site interpreter request and identify the best vendor.
  4. The Language Services coordinator will manage all billing for the scope of work and internal fiscal routing to the requesting division, as well as communication with the vendor. Upon completion of the request, the invoice and scope of work will be submitted by the Language Services coordinator to the requesting program’s fiscal officer for processing and payment.
  5. The Language Services coordinator will regularly update the appropriate contact with tasks, responsibilities and deadlines for review.
  6. The Language Services coordinator will work collaboratively with program contacts to improve processes and outcomes and build capacity for future success.
Tools/Guidance/Standards
 
The following technical resources are available to staff for assistance in complying with this policy:
Language Services Coordinator
303-692-2464
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Office for Civil Rights/Region 8 Office
1961 Stout St., Room 1426
Denver, CO 80294
Phone: 303-844-2024
Fax: 303-844-2025
Policy Basis
 
Language Access Assessment and Planning Tool for Federally Conducted and Federally Assisted Programs – May 9, 2011
 
Common Language Access Questions, Technical Assistance, and Guidance for Federally Conducted and Federally Assisted Programs – Aug.15, 2011
 
 
 
 
 
Code of Ethics for Interpreters in Public Health