Making Justice Real

The Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

DC Language Access Act Should Extend Its Protections to Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Individuals

Jennifer Hatton

Jennifer Hatton, Staff Attorney

As we have previously discussed on this blog, one of Legal Aid’s priorities is working to enhance the District’s compliance with the Language Access Act in order to ensure that each resident of the District, regardless of the language that the person speaks, is able to access public services. Consistent with this priority, I recently testified before the DC Council’s Committees on Government Operations and Human Services regarding the Effective Interpretation for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Amendment Act. The bill seeks to impose rigorous certification requirements on sign language interpreters and expand the pool of interpreters that the District uses. In addition, the bill also amends the Language Access Act (LAA) to extend the protections of the LAA to deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. I testified in support of including the deaf and hard-of-hearing community in the LAA and recommended that the Council take this opportunity to strengthen the LAA by creating a private right of action and judicial review of administrative decisions.

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