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Back to Victim Language Rights

Comprehensive, Competent, Language Access
for Sonoma County !

It's the Law!

Federal Law: Compliance Guidelines: Federal Civil Rights Title VI law governing language access.

California Language Access Law: Gov. Code 7290-7299.8

No Need to Reinvent the Wheel

The bad news is that Sonoma County lags far behind in complying with federal and state legal obligations to limited English-speakers. The good news is there's no need to reinvent the wheel.

Tried and tested 'Best Practices' documents abound for a full range of circumstances and agencies. Included are 'language access' agency policies, personnel trainings, protocols, interpreter evaluation tests, bilingual recruitment plans, needs assessment tools, monitoring tools, and more.

Key words to begin a web search are "language access" and "lep" or "limited English proficiency".

Four Gateway Sites to Begin:

Tips and Tools from the Field (Fed. Gov. Site)

Federal Gov. 'Meaningful Access' Site

Calif. Office of Minority Health Language Access

The Language Access Page

The Pillars of Language Access

Bilingual Personnel - Bilingual certified personnel policy and pay must be fair, otherwise these invaluable personnel won't participate, as is the case now here in our county. Competency testing should be up to standard. (The bilingual test currently used by many county offices is a disgrace.)

Professional Translators - At first glance, hiring professional translators may seem a luxury. But think about it. It's more like 'Buy One, Get One Free". When you hire a professional translator you get back your bilingual officer (who has been serving as a translator) for free.

Telephonic Interpreter Banks - All public contact personnel should have training in the use of, be given
the code of access to, and a written agency use-policy for, a telephonic interpreter service.

Written Materials - Almost none of our local public agencies are in compliance with legal requirements of having essential materials printed in the major language groups of the population.

NOTE: Every relevant Best Practices document we've reviewed emphasizes the need for special care to competency when dealing with limited English proficiency victims of violence against women.

Confronting the Obstacles

A significant obstacle to proper language access in Sonoma County is the failure of non bilingual public employees to understand that language access is their legal obligation too. No one can accept a salary that is paid for by all the public - including by the non English-speaking public - and then give services to only the English-speakers. That's discrimination. It's illegal. And it's morally wrong.

All personnel - bilingual or not - must know the agency bilingual protocols, must be trained to use the means, and be given the means, to fulfill their obligations to provide equal services. And all supervisors, bilingual or not, must monitor language access policy compliance.

What You Can Do

Imagine the social benefits of a community that can fully communicate with it's government! Consider all the costs to a community that can't! Photocopy this page and give it out to public employees in

Law enforcement,
Public Schools,
Public Health,
Social Services,
Government Offices,
or to non profits and health services that
receive government funds.

Thank You!

Feel free to photocopy and distribute this information as long as you keep the credit and text intact.
Copyright © Marie De Santis,
Women's Justice Center,


All rights reserved © 2010 by Woman's Justice Center
Web site by S. Henry Wild