Good customer service is welcome in any language
Idaho is home to a growing number of refugees and immigrants. Refugees are pushed from their homes by war, genocide, political or religious persecution or famine. For them Idaho is a welcome refuge. Immigrants (legal or otherwise) are pulled to this country by economic opportunity, political or religious freedom or a chance to reunite with family members. Whatever the reasons for relocation, most face the challenge of learning English as a second, third or sometimes fifth language. Whether they worked as engineers, doctors, artists or in some other profession in their home countries, all have an uphill struggle to master the basics of a new language in order to better engage our culture and society.
Federal law requires any recipient of federal resources to provide equal access to programs, services, facilities and/or housing, regardless of race, ethnicity, or national origin (among other protected classes). What this means to federal funding recipients is that you must have a Language Assistance Plan in place to accommodate persons with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). This may mean offering translation or interpretive services, expanding outreach efforts to include other significant language groups in your jurisdiction, or other changes in policies and procedures.
Beyond the legal requirements, it is helpful to think of your Language Assistance Plan as an extension of your existing customer service efforts. Wherever a customer, tenant or constituent is from, we all deserve and appreciate service that addresses our needs and respects us as individuals. Idaho is a great state full of wonderful people; it’s up to us all to be the best ambassadors and hosts possible to our new residents and neighbors.
Other related pages and documents
Fair Housing Forum members representing the City of Boise, Boise City/Ada County Housing Authority and Idaho Legal Aid Services have all contributed to the LEP information contained below and on our Resources and Links page. Special thanks to Gary Hanes and the City of Boise for providing initial resources and for compiling the LEP Checklist, and to Rob Christensen of the Western Idaho Community Action Partnership for sharing the PowerPoint presentation.
HUD’s final guidance on LEP (.pdf)
Language Access Assessment and Planning Tool for Federally Conducted and Federally Assisted Programs – May, 2011 U.S. Dept. of Justice
Common Language Access Questions, Technical Assistance for Federally Conducted and Federally Assisted Programs – August 2011, U.S. Dept. of Justice (.pdf)
LEP checklist (.doc)
LEP Survey template (.doc)