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State/Federal Government

Centers for Disease Control
>> www.cdc.gov

Mass. Department of Public Health
>> www.mass.gov/dph 

DPH Best Practice Recommendations for Hospital-Based Interpreter Services

DPH Poster:  "You have the right to an interpreter at no cost to you.  Please point to the language and wait."  Available in 30 different languages.

Mass. Department of Mental Health
>> www.mass.gov/dmh

Mass. Emergency Room Interpreter Law
>> www.mass.gov/legis/laws/seslaw00/s1000066.htm

Office for Civil Rights
>> www.hhs.gov/ocr/

Office for Minority Health (including CLAS standards)
>> www.omhrc.gov/omhhome.htm

>> CMS Strategic Language Access Plan


Language Rights: An Integration Agenda for Immigrant Communities
By Sam Jammal and Tuyet Duong
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) & the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), November 2007


The rights of LEPs are recognized under core civil rights law. Language is not only a barrier to communication, but also an identifying characteristic of an individual's ethnicity and national origin. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, ancestry, national origin or ethnicity. The Supreme Court in Lau v. Nichols affirmed a connection between discrimination based on national origin and language rights. In support of this concept of language rights, numerous pieces of federal legislation also address the needs of LEPs. For more go to http://www.migrationinformation.org/integration/language_portal/files/Language_Rights_Briefing_Book.pdf

Summary of Selected Office of Civil Rights LEP Complaint Investigations and Compliance Reviews http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/lep/complaintcompliance.html


Office of Minority Health

National Standards on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) 

The CLAS standards are primarily directed at health care organizations; however, individual providers are also encouraged to use the standards to make their practices more culturally and linguistically accessible. The principles and activities of culturally and linguistically appropriate services should be integrated throughout an organization and undertaken in partnership with the communities being served. 



Office of Civil Rights

Office for Civil Rights Web site:

What Can You Do If You Believe Your Rights Are Violated?

You can file a civil rights, health information privacy, or patient safety confidentiality complaint with OCR, or someone can file for you. If you want to file a complaint, you should file it within 180 days of when you believe your rights were violated. 

What Does OCR Do To Protect Your Rights?

OCR teaches health and social service workers about the civil rights, health information privacy, and patient safety confidentiality laws that they must follow.

OCR educates communities about civil rights and health information privacy rights.

OCR investigates civil rights, health information privacy and patient safety confidentiality complaints to find out if there is discrimination or a violation of law and takes action to correct problems.

When to File a Complaint

If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex or religion by a health care or human services provider (such as a hospital, nursing home, social service agency, etc.) or by a state or local government health or human services agency, you may file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Complaints alleging discrimination based on disability by programs directly operated by HHS may also be filed with OCR. You may file a complaint for yourself or for someone else. For more information please go to:

DHHS Office of Civil Rights Discrimination Complaint Form 

Effective Communication Project

To see more information please go to http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/specialtopics/hospitalcommunication/

Recent Civil Rights Resolution Agreements 

New DOJ Guidance on Language Access (8/2011)
Common Language Access Questions, Technical Assistance, and Guidance for Federally Conducted and Federally Assisted Programs -Federal Coordination and Compliance Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice


Department of Justice

Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Guidance for Health & Human Services 

" Given the foregoing considerations, vital written materials could include, for example:

Consent and complaint forms.
Intake forms with the potential for important consequences.
Written notices of eligibility criteria, rights, denial, loss, or decreases in benefits or services, actions affecting parental custody or child support, and other hearings.

Notices advising LEP persons of free language assistance.
Written tests that do not assess English language competency, but test competency for a particular license, job, or skill for which knowing English is not required.

Applications to participate in a recipient's program or activity or to receive recipient benefits or services. Nonvital written materials could include:

Hospital menus.
Third party documents, forms, or pamphlets distributed by a recipient as a public service.
For a non-governmental recipient, government documents and forms.
Large documents such as enrollment handbooks (although vital information contained in large documents may need to be translated).

General information about the program intended for informational purposes only. "



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