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District of Columbia Observes Language Access Month

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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced that April is Language Access Month in the District of Columbia, pointed to the District’s successes in language access, and described initiatives that the Gray Administration will be rolling out in April and beyond. Mayor Gray described that his vision for One City includes the idea that, no matter where District residents are from or what language they speak, they have the ability to interact with their community and with their government.

“The District of Columbia is one of the most diverse jurisdictions in the world,” Mayor Gray said. “Seventeen percent of our residents speak a language other than English at home, and more than 130 languages are spoken by District students and their parents. My administration will educate, engage, and celebrate our success as One City during Language Access Month and beyond.”

On April 27 the D.C. Language Access Coalition -- in partnership with the Office of Human Rights, the Office on Latino Affairs, the Office on African Affairs and the Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs -- will be viewing and convening discussions around a series of short films about language access. From May through July, three community forums will be convened to present to and hear from residents on language inclusion in the District’s delivery of health and human services and employment services.

The District of Columbia is one of three jurisdictions in the country with a language-access law and is recognized nationwide for its inclusive policies for immigrants and persons with limited English.

On April 21, 2004, the District of Columbia enacted a fundamental piece of civil-rights legislation—the DC Language Access Act of 2004. The Act holds covered agencies accountable for providing the District’s limited- and non-English proficient (LEP/NEP) residents with greater access to and participation in their programs, services and activities.

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