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How a Language Service Provider Can Support Language Access Planning & Strategy

Organizations that serve diverse communities must ensure meaningful access to information and services for all, including people with limited English proficiency (LEP). This is not just best practice; in many cases, it's a legal requirement. Public entities as well as organizations that receive any amount of federal funding must provide language access to facilitate communication with those who have LEP; failure to ot do so is discrimination in the eyes of the law. In this blog post, we’ll review the basics of language access planning and outline how an LSP can help you create one that meets the goals of your organization. 


The Basics of Language Access Law

Under federal laws such as Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Executive Order 13166, organizations have an obligation to reduce language barriers that can prevent LEP persons from accessing important benefits, programs, information, and services. How this obligation applies to a specific organization depends on the nature of its offerings, the community it serves, and the resources available to it. As a result, well-funded organizations that provide important services to large, diverse populations are expected to take more extensive steps to provide language assistance and notice of language services than others to ensure equal access to their programs. Each organization should develop a language access plan to help ensure it’s meeting its legal obligations and the needs of its community.

What Is a Language Access Plan?

A LAP is critical to an organization’s ability to fully serve its community. A language access plan (LAP) is an organization’s roadmap for providing equal access to communications for everyone. It’s a comprehensive document that specifies how an organization will meet the needs of the LEP individuals it serves. It should identify the languages spoken within the relevant community, known communication barriers, and strategies for overcoming them. These strategies often include translated printed or digital content, interpretation of oral communications, and staff training on how and when to use translation or interpretation services.

What are the benefits of a LAP?

A LAP can do much more than help an organization meet its legal requirements for language access. Beyond avoiding potential litigation, a LAP helps organizations ensure equal access to services, improve outcomes, prevent discrimination, and foster inclusiveness and a sense of belonging. This can improve their ability to deliver services, enhance their reputations as promoters of diversity and inclusion, and better equip them to help their communities thrive.

How is a LAP created?

The first step in developing a plan for language access is a needs assessment. Start with these questions:

  • What languages need to be accommodated? The answer to this question varies widely depending on the location(s) and population served. Organizations in large cities generally need to accommodate more languages than those in rural locations, for example.
  • How, when, and how often do individuals interact with the organization? This question helps identify scheduling needs for interpretation services as well as formats in need of translation or interpretation (for example, website content, phone conversations, live chat, in-person interactions, or printed materials).

With clarity on the languages, formats, and interactions that require accommodations to ensure language access, organizations can begin building a plan to address their specific needs.

What should a LAP include?

A language access plan should be comprehensive, providing both a high-level perspective on the organization’s approach to language access and specific guidance for all interactions and communications with LEP individuals that it serves. To accomplish this, it should include several sections:

Policies & Procedures

This section of the LAP defines the concrete steps for providing language access. It should affirm the organization's commitment to providing equal access to services, describe the principles behind the plan, and outline the approaches to be taken to ensure language access. It should include the procedures used to determine the organization’s language needs, the services it will use, the budget allocated, and staff trainings it will implement. Additionally, it should outline how the plan will be monitored and updated.

Point of Contact

The LAP should clearly identify staff charged with its administration as well as describe oversight and complaint procedures. Larger organizations may need to designate a language access coordinator to implement their plans. The coordinator would be a central point of contact for the LAP and cover responsibilities such as ensuring legal compliance, maintaining a database of translation and interpretation vendors, organizing staff trainings, advocating for initiatives to improve access, and other administrative duties.

Translation & Interpretation Resources

The LAP should identify the types of language resources available and services that will be provided. Often, this includes a mix of translation and interpretation to accommodate access to both written and spoken communications. This section should address all the needs that were discovered in the assessment, providing accommodation for the languages, interactions, and formats that have been identified. Examples of services that might be needed include on-site, phone, or video remote interpreting; document or web-based translation; or specialized technical translation.

Tip: By identifying the scope of its language access needs before reaching out to language service providers, an organization is better positioned to identify the language partner that’s the best fit. Working with a provider who can meet most or all of its language needs can help contain costs, create efficiencies, and ensure consistency.


This section should define how the organization will communicate the availability of language assistance to the community it serves. This might include tactics like posting signage, adding website taglines, creating outreach initiatives, or training staff to inform individuals of these services during their initial contact.


Implementing the LAP will require training. Staff must be taught when and how to access the various language resources available, how to get answers to questions, the procedures for escalating issues for higher level attention, and more. The LAP should include information on the content, structure, and format of trainings, how content mastery will be assessed, and procedures for re-training when necessary.

Performance Metrics

A LAP should establish metrics for measuring its success and identifying areas for improvement. This might involve steps like creating customer or staff surveys, conducting periodic research on demographic data, and tracking usage of language access supports. Outline how often the LAP’s performance should be measured as well as the steps that should be taken in response to various results. For example, underusage of services combined with staff surveys that express a lack of clarity on procedures might indicate a need for additional training. Or, customer surveys and demographic trends might show a need to cover more languages with the LAP. By creating a process for ongoing monitoring and adjustment, a business can continually optimize its LAP.

Partnering with a Language Service Provider

The help of a language service provider (LSP) can be invaluable when developing your language access plan. Designing and implementing a LAP is a complex process that requires a great deal of research and organization to do correctly. Many LSPs specialize in language access and are experts in creating LAPs. They can help ensure nothing gets missed in the process and advise the business about how it can meet its language access needs efficiently and cost effectively.

An experienced LSP can support the LAP creation process in many ways, including providing:

  • A deep understanding of legal and regulatory requirements to consider when creating a LAP and the ability to help ensure your business remains in compliance as the legal landscape evolves
  • Access to large networks of linguists, including interpreters, translators, and cultural consultants, allowing you to accommodate a wide variety of languages
  • Access to and experience using technology and resources such as translation software and interpretation platforms
  • Ongoing support beyond plan development, including implementation, monitoring, and evaluation

Investing in a LAP is an investment in your community and your organization's future. Partnering with a proven and trusted LSP empowers you to build a strong, inclusive language access plan that opens doors for everyone. Language Network is a language service provider that’s dedicated to providing reliable, responsive support for our clients. With thousands of interpreters and translators working in more than 200 languages, we can help you create a LAP that meets your organization’s specific legal obligations, the needs of the communities it serves, and its budget. Reach out to start a conversation with one of our language access planning experts.

About Language Network

Language Network is a language solutions company specializing in interpretation, translation, and localization services for government, healthcare, and international businesses. Language Network provides critical language access and support in over 200 languages. For more information, visit www.languagenetworkusa.com.

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