What's missing from your language access plan?
What is a language access plan?
Individuals with limited-English proficiency (LEP) account for nearly 10% of the U.S. population. A written language access plan clearly outlines the steps your organization will take to provide these individuals with meaningful access to your programs and services.
Healthcare organizations that frequently encounter LEP individuals can really benefit from having a written set of processes to efficiently communicate with these individuals. Furthermore, healthcare entities receiving funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are legally obligated to comply with Section 1557's language assistance requirements, which strongly recommend implementing a written language access plan.
What are some essential components of a language access plan?
The purpose of a language access plan is to establish a written set of processes outlining how your organization will assess the need for, and efficiently provide language assistance services to LEP individuals.
While there's no definitive structure for every language access plan, the following elements are essential to most:
Assess your needs and existing capacity to address them.
Establish points of contact for oral language assistance services.
Establish points of contact for written language assistance services.
Proactively notify LEP individuals of availability of language assistance services at no cost to them.
Train staff on when and how to provide language assistance services to LEP individuals.
Consult with stakeholders to find ways to improve access to, and quality of language assistance services.
The specific language assistance services you provide will depend on the needs of the populations you serve. Significant LEP populations in your state are good indicators of the languages you're likely to encounter.
Use a checklist to help create and assess your language access plan.
Creating a good language access plan requires time and research. Use a checklist to help keep you on track when creating and assessing your plan.
Auracom's Language Access Plan Checklist summarizes 10 essential elements (defined by HHS) for a good language access plan, and includes tangible resources to help expedite the planning process.
Good luck, and happy planning!