|OCR Home | The Organization | Mission | Topics | Sites of Interest | News | What's New|
Selected Federal and State Laws and Regulations Requiring
Federal Laws and Regulations
Federal laws that recognize the need for language assistance
1. The Voting Rights Act, which bans English-only elections
and prescribes other remedial devices to ensure nondiscrimination against
2. The Food Stamp Act of 1977, which requires states to
provide written and oral language assistance to LEP persons under certain
3. Judicial procedure laws that require the use of certified or otherwise qualified interpreters for LEP parties and witnesses, at the government's expense, in certain proceedings;(3)
4. The Older Americans Act, which requires state planning
agencies to use outreach workers who are fluent in the languages of older
LEP persons, where there is a substantial number of such persons in a
5. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration
Reorganization Act, which requires services provided with funds under
the statute to be bilingual if appropriate;(5)
6. The Disadvantaged Minority Health Improvement Act, which
requires the Office of Minority Health (OMH) to enter into contracts to
increase the access of LEP persons to health care by developing programs
to provide bilingual or interpreter services;(6)
7. The Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, which
requires educational agencies to take appropriate action to accommodate
the language differences that impede equal participation by students in
instructional programs;(7) and
8. Regulations issued by the Health Care Financing Administration
(HCFA) which require that evaluations for the mentally ill and mentally
retarded be adapted to the cultural background, language, ethnic origin
and means of communication of the person being evaluated.(8)
State Laws and Regulations
Many states have recognized the seriousness of the language
access challenge and have enacted laws that require providers to offer
language assistance to LEP persons in many service settings.(9)
States that require language assistance include:
1. California, which provides that intermediate care facilities
must use interpreters and other methods to ensure adequate communication
between staff and patients;(10)
2. New Jersey, which provides that drug and alcohol treatment
facilities must provide interpreter services if their patient population
is non-English speaking;(11)
3. Pennsylvania, which provides that a patient who does
not speak English should have access, where possible, to an interpreter;(12)
4. Massachusetts, which in April 2000, enacted legislation
that requires every acute care hospital to provide competent interpreter
services to LEP patients in connection with all emergency room services.(13)
Medical Accreditation Organizations
1. The Joint Committee on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
(JCAHO), which accredits hospitals and other health care institutions,
requires language assistance in a number of situations. For example, its
accreditation manual for hospitals provides that written notice of patients'
rights must be appropriate to the patient's age, understanding and language.(14)
2. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), which provides accreditation for managed care organizations, also requires language assistance in a variety of settings. As part of its evaluation process, the NCQA assesses managed care member materials to determine whether they are available in languages, other than English, spoken by major population groups.(15)
1. 42 U.S.C. Section 1973 b(f)(1).
2. 7 U.S.C. Section 2020(e)(1)and(2)(A).
3. 28 U.S.C. Section 1827 (d)(1)(A).
4. 42 U.S.C. Section 3027 (a) (20)(A).
5. 42 U.S.C. Section 290aa(d) (14).
6. 42 U.S.C. Section 300u-6 (b) (7).
7. 20 U.S.C. Section 1703 (f).
8. 42 C.F.R. section 483.128 (b).
9. At least twenty six (26) states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation requiring language assistance, such as interpreters and/or translated forms and other written materials, for LEP persons.
10. 22 California Code of Regulations, Section 73501. California has a wide array of other laws and regulations that require language assistance, including those that require: (a) intermediate nursing facilities to use interpreters and other methods to ensure adequate communication with patients, (b) adult day care centers to employ ethnic and linguistic staff as indicated by participant characteristics,(c) certified interpreters for non-English speaking persons at administrative hearings, and (d) health licensing agencies to translate patients rights information into every language spoken by 1% or more of the nursing home population.
11. New Jersey Administrative Code Section 42A-6.7.
12. 28 Pennsylvania Administrative Code Section 103.22(b)(14).
13. M.G.L.A. 111, Section 25J
14. JCAHO, 1997 Accreditation Manual for Hospitals, Section R1.1.4.
15. NCQA, 1997 Accreditation Standards, RR 6.2.
HHS Home |
What's New |
For Kids |
Disclaimers | Privacy Notice | FOIA | Site Info | Contact Us
Date revised: February 2, 2001