A big hello to all you language access supporters out there!
My name is Megan Walker, and I’m excited to have joined the DC Language Access Coalition as Coalition Coordinator in August. There’s been a lot going on from day 1, so I jumped in and got to work, but wanted to take a breather now and share what’s been going on with all of you - some of it has been behind the scenes and some of it you may already know about.
First, if you’re reading this, it means our website revitalization was successful! We are excited to have our online presence back, though you might have noticed its location has changed. Sadly, our previous domain name, ‘dclanguageaccess.org’ was bought by another organization, so we added one word to the name and we’re back in business! ‘Dclanguageaccesscoalition.org’ is our new internet home. You’ll notice that despite the change in domain name, our website content is the same - we’re in the process of updating that content so please let us know by email if you have any suggestions: email@example.com.
We have also been putting a lot of time and consideration into our response to an incident in July involving Mayor Gray’s office and various agencies serving the Mayor during a walk-through of a local business, where we suspect a violation of the Language Access Act of 2004 occurred. After initial contact between Many Languages One Voice (MLOV) and the Office of Human Rights (OHR), the Coalition decided to send OHR a letter reiterating MLOV’s request for a meeting with the Mayor to discuss the incident. Representatives from OHR, the Office on Latino Affairs, and the Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs attended the most recent DCLAC Executive Committee meeting on September 24th to discuss the situation, inform the Coalition of what has happened internally in their offices, and to propose corrective courses of action to ensure LEP/NEP small business owners’ and employees’ rights to language access services are fulfilled. In response to the meeting with DCLAC, during which advocates voiced concerns about the lack of language access during walk-throughs of small businesses, we are pleased that the Mayor’s office has proposed three actions:
1. To establish a protocol for ensuring language access is provided during walk-throughs of small businesses, convene a meeting between the DC Language Access Coalition and Directors of the DC government agencies involved in walk-throughs and similar community outreach activities.
2. A representative from the Mayor's Office of Community Affairs will visit with the store clerk from the July incident and provide an apology to the clerk and inform him of the steps that are being taken to ensure such future interactions go smoothly for all involved.
3. The Office of Human Rights will take the lead in convening periodic meetings between the Coalition and the agencies involved to ensure accountability and followthrough.
The Coalition is pleased that their requests of the Mayor’s offices have been heard and are being responded to, and are motivated by this advocacy victory. We are currently in discussions regarding these proposals and are working to serve the interests of the LEP community member hurt by denial of access as well as the greater LEP/NEP community. If you would like further information and/or to be involved, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am honored and excited to be working with so many inspiring advocates through the Coalition - here’s to continued partnerships and improving access for all!
By Archana Pyati
Read original article here
WASHINGTON, D.C.--Mangamana Kao made multiple trips last year to the District of Columbia’s public benefits office to get the medical assistance and food stamps he could rightfully receive as a legal immigrant from Togo. On each visit, he made a simple request that was always –and illegally--denied: He asked for a interpreter who could translate into French, his primary language in Togo.
Kao, 42, felt frustrated during these exchanges with government employees, yet he never understood that D.C. officials were breaking the law until he met a language-access advocate last summer at a Togolese social event. She told him about his rights under the Language Access Act, signed into law by then-Mayor Anthony Williams in 2004.
“That’s when I realized that when you don’t know your rights, you are being mistreated,” Kao said in an interview.
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