What is language access?
Language access allows community members with limited English proficiency (LEP) - defined as having limited ability to speak, understand, read, or write in English - to use and benefit from a wide range of services.
Did you know that among Chapel Hill residents, 20% of residents speak a language other than English at home and 6% of residents are identified as LEP? Advancing language access in Chapel Hill will support many of our residents.
Why does Chapel Hill need language access?
The Town serves community members in a variety of ways that are important to day-to-day life. Communications that are accessible to the whole community will help Chapel Hill be more inclusive and welcoming to all.
In recent years, the Town has become increasingly aware of the communication gap with residents who speak languages other than English. In 2018, as part of the Building Integrated Communities (BIC) Project, Chapel Hill's immigrant and refugee residents identified language access as a key strategy for the Town to advance to better serve the community.
Since then, the Town, in collaboration with community partners, developed the BIC Action Plan which includes an objective focused on advancing language access across the Town.
What is a Language Access Plan (LAP)?
Since the Town receives funding from the Federal government, we are required by Federal law to plan for and provide LEP individuals with meaningful access to services, programs, and activities. A Language Access Plan outlines policies and procedures to ensure meaningful access.
The Town is currently developing a Town-wide LAP. This Plan will help ensure the Town moves towards policies and procedures supporting the right of all residents to communicate with the Town in the language in which they prefer.
What else is the Town doing to advance language access?
- Provided interpretation services for a variety of public meetings, such as Council, Public Information, and community engagement meetings.
- Created multilingual emergency preparedness videos.
- Purchased interpretation equipment and is expecting to make the equipment available for community use soon. More details coming soon.
- Continued working with community partners to address language access needs.
Commonly used words and definitions for language access:
- Interpretation: The process of adapting oral messages from one language to another. Often used for meetings.
- Translation: The process of adapting written text from one language to another. Often used for converting text in documents.
- Limited English Proficiency (LEP): Describes individuals with limited ability to communicate (e.g. speak, read, write, or understand) effectively in English.
- Language Justice: The right for all people to communicate in the language they prefer.
- Meaningful Access: Ability to use resources without significant restriction from language barriers.
To learn more about the Town’s language access efforts, contact Megan Peters, Community Connections Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-968-2756.