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Language Access Program
The City of Madison language access program provides tools to access services to people with low or non-English speaking and reading skills. As part of the Department of Civil Rights, this program supports city agencies and the community with language services. On this page, you will find resources and tools to access the City's Language services.
What is Language Access
Language Access is the ability to gather information about city departments, news, events, resources, or other information needed to be involved in Citywide activities. For individuals with low or no English skills, language access means providing information in their chosen language to play, live, and work in Madison.
A few examples of language access include:
- Signs in City Buildings and parks in English and Spanish
- Providing Hmong interpretation at neighborhood meetings
- Helping a customer through the use of interpretation
- Meeting with a deaf customer through video interpretation
- American Sign Language (ASL) – A language used predominantly by individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing, which uses syntax that is distinct from spoken English.Those who communicate in ASL as their primary language may or may not be able to speak, write, or lip-read in English.
- Computer-Aided Realtime Translation (CART) – A method to provide access to spoken communication for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Is also referred to as “real-time captioning” or “Communication Access Realtime Translation”. It is defined as the instant translation of spoken English to English text using a computer or realtime software. The text can be displayed on many mediums, including: an individual’s computer, projected onto a screen, combined with a video, or other display systems.
- English as a Second Language (ESL) – A term used to describe the use, study, and teaching of the English language by non-native English speakers in an English-speaking environment.
- Interpretation - Interpretation is the conversion of a spoken message from one language to another while preserving the intent and meaning of the original message.
- Limited English Proficient (LEP) Individual - A person who does not speak English as their primary language and who has a limited ability to speak, read, write or understand English. These individuals may be entitled to language assistance with respect to a particular type of service, benefit or encounter.
- Meaningful Access – Access such that an LEP individual is given adequate information, can understand the services and benefits available, can receive the services for which the individual is eligible, and can communicate the relevant circumstances of the individual’s situation to the service provider.
- Over-the-Phone Interpreter (OPI) Services (also known as telephonic interpreter services) – A means of interpretation that allows 24/7, on demand access to interpreter over-the-phone through a vendor with whom the City has contracted.
- Primary Languages – The set of languages which includes English, American Sign Language (ASL), and the top three primary non-English language groups most commonly used in Madison.
- Qualified Bilingual Staff – An employee who provides services in two languages and has had their language skills properly assessed and vetted. As part of the hiring process, this employee has been tested for their fluency in both languages and has a position description that identifies providing services in multiple languages as part of their work duties and responsibilities.
- Translation - Translation is the conversion of a written message from one language to another while preserving the intent and meaning of the original message.
- Video Remote Interpretation (VRI) – A means of interpretation which incorporates a computer or two-way video screen. It can be used to provide an individual with simultaneous signing or spoken interpretation of a conversation or meeting.
- Vital Documents – Information or documents that are critical for accessing federally funded services or benefits, or are documents that are required by law.
Plan implementation timeline
- Phase 1: Communicating Existing Services
- Phase 2: Meeting Essential Language Access Needs
- Phase 3: Language Access Organization
- Phase 4: Complete Service Delivery and Accountability
For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or the Department of Civil Rights at (608) 266-4910.