Who should lead the implementation of your language access plan?

Some organizations are just beginning to acknowledge the need for language access services in response to legislation like the Affordable Care Act’s Section 1557, and they don’t know where to start.

Providing meaningful language access to limited English proficiency populations and individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing is not only the right thing to do but it’s required by law.

Someone needs to take ownership of and implement your organization’s language access plan. If you aren’t sure who that "someone" should be, here are a few questions to help you decide.

Who Works Most Closely with Your Front-Line Staff?

It takes a big-picture view to implement a language access plan and ensure all its component parts are working harmoniously. There is a tendency to turn ownership of a language access plan over to front-line staff members who interact directly with the public. Our experience is that these people, though well-intended, are often preoccupied with near-term customer-service issues and do not have the perspective necessary to oversee implementation.

This responsibility may sit more comfortably with someone who oversees the front-line staff. At a hospital, this could be the patient-access director. At a police department, it may be the deputy chief or administrative assistant.

What Are Your Industry Peers Doing?

Every organization is different, but it never hurts to ask around. Talk to peers at organizations whose size and structure are similar to yours to find out how they have implemented language access plans.

When in doubt, ask for guidance from an advisory group or professional organization, such as the American College of Healthcare Administrators or Fraternal Order of Police.

Who Else Should Be Involved?

There’s a familiar feeling we all experience when making a decision with far-reaching implications: We don’t want to leave anyone out, but we don’t want six months of committee meetings, either.

The RACI matrix is a helpful framework for making decisions like the one we're discussing. It prompts you to think through who should ultimately be responsible for a new initiative, who will be held accountable for the results, who should be consulted, and who simply needs to be informed. For example, if your language access plan includes adding a new phone system or video remote interpreting, your IT director is an important person to consult.

Is It You? One Final Clue

If you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance you are the person who ultimately will be responsible for implementing your organization’s language access plan. It’s likely you have something significant at stake, such as patient satisfaction scores to secure reimbursement dollars or compliance with a government mandate.

LanguageLine(R) can help you translate your language access plan into action. Our comprehensive language services include complimentary implementation support to ensure all technology is working properly and employees receive proper training.

We can also visit your site to conduct a more in-depth language access audit, and then develop a specific plan that’s tailored to your needs. 

About LanguageLine

LanguageLine has been the world leader in innovative language-access solutions since 1982. The company sets the global standard for phone, video, and onsite interpreting, as well as translation of the written word. LanguageLine is trusted by more than 30,000 clients to enable communication with the limited English proficient, Deaf, and Hard of Hearing communities. LanguageLine provides the industry’s fastest and most dependable access to more than 35,000 professional linguists in 290-plus languages — 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Please do not hesitate to contact us.


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