This presentation was prepared for two school Districts in Oregon. Recently, some Oregon school districts have made the news because they have had multiple Title VI complaints. The  language access principles presented here should help school districts implement policies that enable them to use their funds effectively and avoid these problems.

Schools base their language access service on Title VI, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in any program or activity that receives Federal funds or Federal financial assistance. This page from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and this page from the United States Department of Justice refer to Title VI in more detail.

However, Title VI was first applied to Language Access because of Lau v. Nichols, a court case filed against a school in California in 1974. The Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964, but it wasn’t until 1974 that it was applied to language access. In 1978, the Court Interpreters Act became law and Federal courts were required to work with certified court interpreters. State courts have their own laws regarding court interpreting, and the National Center for State Courts now administers exams in 20 languages for state courts.

Medical interpreting certification became active in 2011, with the Certification Commission of Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) and the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI).

In spite of the fact that language access came to light as a civil right in the schools, the education system still does not generally require the services of certified interpreters or certified translators, and still does not apply the best practices outlined in the ASTM Standards. I hope that by putting this presentation online, designed for schools that expressed an interest in the subject, other schools and organizations will see the value of working with certified professionals and applying the best practices outlined in this presentation.

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This post outlines the basis for such complaints and gives some resources for avoiding them as well as links for reporting them.

Quality interpreting and translation supports communication in our communities, and without it we will likely suffer miscommunication, which may result in higher rates of violence, more expensive medical treatments, more expensive treatment of IEP cases, and a breakdown in relationships between neighbors.

This page, from the Oregon Society of Translators and Interpreters, provides guidance in choosing qualified professionals.