Language Access

The United States is home to over 55 million people who speak a language other than English at home.  Among the 8.3 million Americans aged five or older who speak an Asian or Pacific Island language, approximately one in three are limited English proficient (LEP).  As part of the Administration’s commitment to improving the quality of life for all AAPIs, WHIAAPI works closely with 24 federal agencies to ensure that LEP AAPIs have meaningful access to federal programs and services.  In addition, the Initiative continues to promote efforts to integrate immigrants into their new American communities linguistically, civically, and economically.

Below are resources that provide information on the federal requirements of language access, planning tools for agencies, language assistance training, and vendors. Also included are in-language Google Hangouts about the Health Insurance Marketplace in Chinese (Mandarin), Vietnamese, and Korean.  

Links to Federal Resources

  • Resources for procuring language services: Visit this site to access the Foreign Language Services Ordering Guide, a tool for agencies, program staff and procurement officers to purchase high quality language services.
  • Language training and testing for federal employees: The State Department’s Foreign Service Institute aims to provide language training to prepare individuals to live and work effectively overseas.  A variety of programs is offered, tailored to the needs of various professional specialties within the Department and the foreign affairs community.  Programs range in length from a few weeks to two years.  Some language programs are part-time; most are full-time.  Some programs aim to develop a broad proficiency in the language, while others are focused on specific tasks in situations likely to be encountered overseas. Employees of Government agencies are eligible for training on a reimbursable basis. The full course schedule is available here.
  • Resource for interpretation needs: The National Language Services Corp is a pilot program featuring a national corps of individuals who speak languages other than English to offer their support to Federal agencies during times of crisis, such as relief efforts after hurricanes.