Making Justice RealThe Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia
Legal Aid Testifies at D.C. Agency Oversight Hearings
David’s testimony focused on Legal Aid’s concern, based on its clients’ experiences, that DCRA may too often be failing to meet its interpretation and translation obligations under the Language Access Act. In one instance, a mono-lingual Spanish-speaking Legal Aid client was repeatedly denied her requests for interpretation services in her telephone communications with the agency, as well as in person, when DCRA employee came to her house to conduct an inspection. Moreover, David expressed concern that DCRA may be failing to comply with its obligations to provide tenants, regardless of the language they speak, with any copies whatsoever of housing inspection reports pertaining to their units.
Maggie testified that DCHA may also be consistently failing to comply with its interpretation and written translation requirements under the Language Access Act. Like David’s, Maggie’s testimony described instances where limited- or non-English proficient District residents have informed Legal Aid that they are often forced to wait hours to be served, are asked to use their minor children as translators, and are sometimes told to just go home and come back another day when a staff member who has the capacity to serve them might be available. Some individuals who specifically requested language assistance were greeted with responses such as, “No, your English is good enough; we’re going to speak English,” and “You are in America now; we speak English here.”