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Enforcing Language Access Rights

Trends and Strategies

By Jane Perkins, Mary R. Mannix, Jack Daniel & Wanda Boonsurmsuwongse Hasadsri

For thirty years, federal civil rights policies have required federal agencies and federally funded entities to ensure that national-origin minorities with limited English proficiency have meaningful access to government services and activities. The mandate arises from Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Despite the U.S. Supreme Court's rollback of Title VI enforcement in Alexander v. Sandoval, Executive Order 13166 and Department of Justice guidelines continue to recognize language access requirements. Strategies to ensure language access include complaints to the Office for Civil Rights, negotiation with state and local agencies, and state and local legislation.

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