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OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS EARNS PERFECT SCORE IN LANGUAGE ACCESS ASSESSMENT

Monday, July 30, 2018

On July 11, 2018, the District of Columbia Language Access Program, a division within the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights, released its annual Compliance Review.  The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) received a perfect rating for FY17, following a strong score in FY16.

In FY17, in the course of the administrative adjudication process, OAH provided services to limited and non-English proficient (LEP/NEP) individuals in about 1,350 instances.  The top languages (other than English) OAH encountered during that period were Amharic, Spanish, Tigrinya, Arabic, Korean, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, Vietnamese, and Farsi.  OAH relied upon bilingual staff members, court-certified in-house interpreters, and the District-wide vendor LanguageLine Solutions to provide interpretation and translation services.  Interpretation services were provided at no cost throughout the adjudication process—from when a person visits the OAH Resource Center to when a hearing takes place in front of an administrative law judge.  Many court forms and information sheets have also been translated into a number of languages and are available in the OAH Resource Center and on the OAH website.

The D.C. Language Access Act of 2004 requires all District agencies to provide LEP/NEP individuals access to government services.  The Act removes any barriers LEP/NEP individuals may have previously faced in receiving services from the District.

There is an exceptionally diverse population in the District of Columbia, with 13.3% of residents foreign born.  A higher percent, 17.1% of residents, speak a language other than English at home. Furthermore, 39,179 District residents, or 6.1%, are classified as LEP individuals.  

The Compliance Review assessed District government agencies on their compliance with the Language Access Act.  The Review was broken down into three categories: preparedness, accessibility, and quality. The Language Access Program gave OAH high marks for institutionalizing a strong language access program and recognized OAH as a model agency for its compliance with the Language Access Act.  

OAH’s commitment to providing high-quality language access underscores the agency’s mission to enhance the quality of life in the District by providing residents with a fair, efficient and effective system to manage and resolve administrative litigation arising under District of Columbia law.