Leadership, Ethics, and Trust

Bridging Divides: Engaging Diverse Communities Efficiently

Page from GFR

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 67.3 million people in the United States spoke a language other than English at home as of 2018. Many of these individuals are also considered to have limited English proficiency (LEP). Without language access, LEP residents may struggle to access a variety of government services. In some cases, this is an inconvenience. In other cases, it can keep people from making use of essential services. And in worst-case scenarios, when someone needs to access emergency services or is seeking health information, these language barriers can be literally lifethreatening.

Language access is a legal requirement that keeps communities strong and residents safe. State and local governments face limited funding here, as they do in providing so many other services, but there are ways to budget efficiently for language access services to ensure that no one in your community gets left behind. The following best practices will help your government create and optimize a language access plan to ensure that residents with LEP can take advantage of the services they require.