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About Language Access

The Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (OAPIA) provides District agencies with technical assistance and guidance on providing language assistance to Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) constituents with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). It also monitors the performance of these agencies in providing this language access.

Since the Spring 2000, OAPIA has been involved with Language Access, with the launched of former Mayor William’s Asian and Pacific Islander Initiative, which mandated 17 DC agencies provide equal access to services for Limited English Proficient (LEP) residents.

OAPIA spearheaded the Mayor’s initiative by coordinating with 17 District agencies to develop and implement agency action plans that covered five areas needing improvement. Those areas were:

  • Information translation
  • Diversifying workforce
  • Employee multicultural training
  • Community outreach
  • Community partnerships

After the passage of the DC Language Access Act in 2004 ( *See also DC Language Acess Act of 2004 Fact Sheet), OAPIA entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Office of Human Rights (OHR), which has oversight of the Act. The MOU established OAPIA’s role as a consultative body to the Language Access Director and the Director of OHR to develop, update, and monitor the implementation of the Language Access plans of covered agencies.

OAPIA also supports District agencies in their efforts to address the needs of LEP communities. It has increased the areas of the agency’s work to address the needs of the LEP community. These areas include data collection, outreach, quality control, and the hiring of bilingual Public Contact Positions (PCPs) and multicultural sensitivity training.

Currently, OAPIA’s activities include:

  • Monitoring front line centers on their language access to District Agencies
  • Providing information on issues and data on the Asian and Pacific Islander communities to agencies
  • Reviewing and commenting on District agency plans and reports on language access
  • Providing information resources to District agencies on bilingual hiring, cultural competency trainings, and information translation

For more information on OAPIA’s role in the Language Access initiative, please contact Neel Saxena at (202) 727-0729 or email neel.saxena@dc.gov.  For more information on the Language Access Act, please visit Office on Human Rights or email ohr@dc.gov