enhancing access for individuals with limited english profiency toolkit

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Safety Alert: If you believe your computer activities are being monitored, please access this site from a safer computer. To immediately exit this site, click the escape button. If you are in immediate danger, contact 911, a local crisis line, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

Language access improves services and enhances outcomes [1]. Recent studies in health care settings have shown that language access can improve a patient’s overall health care encounter, the doctor-patient relationship, and the patient’s understanding of diagnoses and treatment options [2]. Quality language access also gives patients more confidence in their provider and satisfaction with their overall health care experience [3]. Studies examining the impact of language access on a patient’s experience with mental health services have found similar results [4].

Research in the domestic violence and sexual assault fields shows that survivors appreciate and feel more supported when language access services are provided [6], and that domestic violence survivors with LEP were more likely to seek out services if services were provided in their language [5].

Language access clearly enhances safety if you consider that without it, the survivor cannot interact fluently with an advocate and the advocate cannot conduct a thorough risk assessment, assist the survivor in understanding their rights and options, help develop a comprehensive safety plan, or assist in advocacy efforts such as obtaining an order for protection or pursuing immigration remedies.


[1]Need, Availability, and Quality of Interpreter Services among Publicly Insured Latino, Hmong, and Somali Individuals in Minnesota” N. Shippee, J. Pintor, D. McAlpine, T. Beebe, Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, Vol. 23, No. 3 (August 2012) pp 1073-1081; “Shared Networks of Interpreter Services, At Relatively Low Cost, Can Help Providers Serve Patients with Limited English Skills”, Health Affairs Vol. 30 No. 10 (2011) 1930-1938; “Do Professional Interpreters Improve Clinical Care for Patients with Limited English Proficiency? A Systematic Review of the Literature”, L. Karliner, E. Jacobs A. Chen and S. Mutha, Health Research and Education Trust, (April 2007); “The Need for More Research on Language Barriers in Health Care: A Proposed Research Agenda”, E. Jacobs, A. Chen, L. Karliner, N. Agger-Gupta and S. Mutha, The Milbank Quarterly Vol 84, No. 1, (2006)

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4]The Impact of Threshold Language Assistance Programming on the Accessibility of Mental Health Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency in the Medi-Cal Setting”, S. McClellan, F. Wu, and L. Snowden, Medical Care, Vol. 50, No. 6, June 2012

[5]Cultural Issues Affecting Domestic Violence Service Utilization in Ethnic and Hard to Reach Populations”, K. Senturia, M Sullivan, S. Cixke, and S. Shiu-Thorton, NCJRS (November 2000).

[6]Meeting Survivor’s Needs Through Non-Residential Domestic Violence Services and Supports: Results of a Multi-State Study”, E. Lyon and J. Bradshaw (November 2011) pp 57-80; “Preventing Sexual Violence in Latin@ communities: A National Needs Assessment”, NSVRC (2013); Realidades Latinas: A National Survey on the Impact of Immigration and Language Access on Latina Survivors, Casa de Esperanza (2013/14). “Cultural Issues Affecting Domestic Violence Service Utilization in Ethnic and Hard to Reach Populations”, K. Senturia, M Sullivan, S. Cixke, and S. Shiu-Thorton, NCJRS (November 2000).