Online Program

Accessing Health: The DC Language Access Act of 2004

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tyra Hudgens, Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA
Background: In 2004 the District of Columbia passed a Language Access act (The Act) to increase access to, and provide equal service to, limited and non-English proficient residents at DC agencies. In the years since, annual reports continue to show a significant amount of noncompliance with the Act.  Recent research critiques reliance on agency self-report data and moves toward direct observation of compliance.  Recent research, however, still heavily relies on quantitative data.

Methods: This study uses in-depth qualitative interviews with 50 English and Spanish-speaking users of service agencies to examine issues of agency compliance, and how other issues (e.g. literacy or larger cultural issues) complicate the relationship between language access compliance and equal service/access to agency programs.

Results:  The study will provide insight into why there are problems with compliance, and offer possibilities for increased access.  Themes under study include literacy, discrimination and marginalization, immigration, and organizational challenges.

Conclusions: Qualitative data can enrich our understanding of how we can improve access and offer insight into why increasing language access is difficult.  It also has the potential to inform and guide language policy, and work on health disparities and barriers to care.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe current issues with implementation of and compliance with the Language Access Act. Demonstrate the utility of qualitative approaches in addressing challenges in policy implementation.

Keyword(s): Access Immigration, Latinos

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a current MPH student at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. My research interests focus on issues of language and identity and access to health care and this research is part of this degree program.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.