Lancaster Language Justice Initiative
New Pilot Designed to Improve Access to Services
Language justice refers to everyone’s right to communicate in the language they feel most comfortable. Without appropriate resources and accommodations, we risk marginalizing individuals based on their national origin, ethnic identification, and language. In certain scenarios, we risk their health and safety when information is misinterpreted. We hope to enhance existing community resources with a framework of justice that respects peoples’ fundamental rights to understand and be understood in the language they feel most articulate and powerful.
It is important to note that meaningful access to services, including language access, is protected under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as other federal, state, and local laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Federal agencies and programs receiving federal funding are required to develop systems to improve access to their programs and services for persons with limited English proficiency (LEP). LEP is defined as those “whose primary language for communication is not English” and who have “a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English.”
United Way of Lancaster County and Communication Essentials, LLC are partnering to support local efforts to advance language access and equity. The Lancaster Language Justice Initiative is a pilot program sponsored in part by the Walters/Unitarian Universalist Church Trust, an endowment from Arthur and Selma Walters to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lancaster in support of events that affirm the worth and dignity of all humans and that strive to increase the awareness of and respect for our environment.
Five local organizations were selected to participate in the pilot cohort based on the following criteria: nature of services they provide, number of LEP individuals served by the organization, frequency of communication/interaction with LEP individuals, impact of their services in the community, what kind of barriers people could face if the services of these selected organizations are not available in languages other than English.
The application deadline for the pilot was 1/21/22. Agencies interested in the potential of participating in the future, please join the waiting list by sending an email to: email@example.com.
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