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Effective Language Access: The Challenge for Educators

Posted by Greg Holt on August 10, 2016

With the advent of legislation like the Every Student Succeeds Act, No Child Left Behind, and other regulations that strengthen the involvement of parents in their children’s education, school districts have a growing need for successful language access programs.

At the core of the need for language solutions is the principle of ensuring meaningful access to educational programs. Federal legislation, like Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin, which today includes language. Other statutes touching on equal opportunity for children (and their parents) to participate in the educational process include the Equal Educational Opportunity Act, Title III of No Child Left Behind Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Mandates to provide equal access to the benefits of public education are a common theme.

The main driver for the growth of language services in schools is the Limited English Proficient (LEP) population around the country. In the United States, where 1 in 5 individuals now speak a language other than English at home, schools encounter significant language barriers. English language learners (ELL) comprised 9.3% (or 4.5 million students) in 2013-2014. In California that number reached 22.7%! These statistics don’t account for LEP parents. Communicating with parents in their preferred language is critical to their full understanding and participation in their children’s education. 

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Translation Services: It’s the law, and it’s a good thing!

Posted by Jon Bove on February 11, 2016

“It's one thing to have a language access mandate and even a language access policy; it's another thing to put these mandates and policies into place.” Language Access Coordinator for a Large U.S. City

Government organizations have instituted language access plans and policies to provide meaningful access to services in the most common local languages. But, unfortunately, plans don’t always equal results and limited English proficient (LEP) communities often do not receive that much-needed in information in their own language.

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