Rhode Island Agrees to Improve Language Services

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Rhode Island Agrees to Improve Language Services

Rhode Island's Department of Human Services has agreed to improve and enhance the language services it provides clients with limited fluency in English, resolving a federal civil rights complaint the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed in 2007. "I think it's a very important victory ... not only for those who want to make sure the state is complying with federal law, but also for Rhode Island's significant immigrant population that needs access to and is entitled to these services," says Rhode Island ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown. He says the consent agreement between Rhode Island and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights "only demands that the state do what federal law requires them to do, by reinforcing an obligation that the Department of Human Services has had for some time." A major component of the agreement mandates that limited English speakers be informed that they are entitled to state-financed interpreting and translation services. The requirement is also applicable to individuals who want to use family or friends as interpreters. The state must intercede if it determines that a friend or relative seeking to act as an interpreter is "inappropriate." The state is now obligated to map out its plan to add, tweak, or revise its policies and procedures to comply with Title VI requirements and those of the consent agreement. Furthermore, it must examine the language requirements of its clients who seek services such as general public assistance, medical assistance, and rehabilitation, drawing upon data from school systems, state and local government, the U.S. Census Bureau, and community and refugee/immigrant service agencies. Jacqueline Kelley, general counsel for Rhode Island’s Office of Health and Human Services, called the agreement a “win-win,” for both clients and the state.

From "State Agency Agrees to Improve Language Services"
Providence Journal (RI) (01/20/11) Ziner, Karen Lee
 

Source: ATA Newsbriefs - January 2011


 

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