LOUISIANA LANGUAGE ACCESS COALITION
The Louisiana Language Access Coalition promotes full and meaningful participation in
public life, without barriers based on language, for all people.
Goals, Objectives and Strategies:
- Promote public policy on language access for limited English proficient (LEP) people.
- Increase capacity of public agencies and community organizations to serve LEP people.
- Create responsive public services that are sensitive to the needs of LEP people.
- Promote an inclusionary environment for all people.
Brief History & Accomplishments:
The Louisiana Language Access Coalition (LLAC) of New Orleans began as an organization formed as a response to many concerns identified at the Latino Forum of New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina in 2006. The coalition was formed to bring together community members of the New Orleans Metro area from the Hispanic and Spanish speaking, Vietnamese and Vietnamese speaking and Brazilian and Portuguese speaking people to address language access issues in public policy, public agencies, community organizations, public services for the Limited English Proficient populations. LLAC has focused in the areas of health care, criminal and civil justice and education as these areas affect Limited English Proficient populations in service delivery and rights as provided by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Louisiana Language Access Coalition was formally recognized by the New Orleans City Council in 2007 and has worked on the proposal and draft of City Act to address the three areas of concentration on the city and state level of government.
Spectrum of Language:
The Louisiana Language Access Coalition has as a part of its initiatives to promote
understanding and cultural sensitivity to populations of Limited English Proficiency. There
are many factors that must be considered when addressing the LEP community and
population. These factors include age, level of education, SES (Socio Economic Status),
country of origin, length of time in the U.S., and availability of English as Second Language
English is also considered one of the more difficult languages to acquire due to its linguistic nature and Germanic language roots. Although, Standard English is nationally accepted, it is in itself a dialect in origin and can vary by region and accentuation adding a higher level of difficulty for language acquisition. The acquisition of the English language is highly regarded among immigrant communities as a part of their acculturation. The level of
acquisition and language preference increases exponentially as it relates with length of stay and date of original migration. It is also changed generationally as the 2nd and 3rd
generation of a particular group assimilates into the regional culture. The spectrum and
level of acquisition will vary from person to person depended on the factors that are
particular to the individual. Language acquisition regardless of the type of language can be
challenging to any person and the acquisition of the English language should be considered as such in level of difficulty.
English proficiency can be arbitrary and gauged in a subjective way by the receiving end of
a conversation or interaction. Because many of our community members can fall anywhere
in the spectrum of language acquisition it is critical to provide for those who fall on the
farther end of gradient. Language access does not propose to change the official language
but to advocate on behalf of the ability to provide services and rights guaranteed by Title
VI. Furthermore, it serves to include those community members that are deprived of and
unable to ensure for themselves due process, access to health care and education due to
their level of English proficiency. The Louisiana Language Access Coalition asks that the
spectrum and level of language be considered in planning and extending services. Cultural
sensitivity must also be considered as part of all actions dealing with the LEP community as they go hand in hand.
Currently in the area of justice, the Louisiana Language Access Coalition is focusing specifically on a proposal to state legislation and provision that create standards and monitoring of interpreter services within the state court system. In Health, the LLAC currently has three goals: (1) Medicaid reimbursement for interpretation, translation and language appropriate services in health care; (2) the adoption of state standards and provision of language appropriate services in health care, including medical interpreter standards; and (3) increased awareness in the healthcare community about laws, resources and skills for providing language appropriate services to LEP individuals. In Education we continued work in the RSD and charter school system to raise awareness of the needs of LEP & ELL community. The LLAC continues to advocate for LEPs with the mayor and leadership in the City of New Orleans.
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The Latino Forum is a coalition working together that promotes the rights of Latinos in the greater New Orleans area through service delivery, community education, and advocacy.
The Latino Forum, which has been meeting since August 2006, is a network of people that work in, or would like to work in, Latin American communities in the Greater New Orleans area. It aims to promote equity by strengthening the voice of Latinos in Louisiana and by building alliances between diverse individuals, communities, and organizations.
Thus far, the Latino Forum has served as a great place to meet others working on similar issues, share important information, and collaborate. The Latino Forum is working to increase the coordination of existing services to the Latin American community and address issues as they arise.
Originally begun to discuss the needs of Latin Americans after Hurricane Katrina, the group continues to meet once a month, on Fridays, to discuss a wide array of issues affecting these communities, including health care, public safety, immigration issues, human rights, language access, disaster preparedness, economic justice, culture, and education. The Forum has also coordinated focus groups about emergency preparedness, worked closely with the Language Access Coalition on improving language services in the area, and published information about events and services on its blog site.
Largely composed of representatives from various community organizations and non-profits at the current time, the Latino Forum welcomes new participants, both individuals and organizations, to attend meetings or otherwise contribute ideas and insight.
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