Imagine walking into an emergency room or doctor’s office needing medical care, and every sign and piece of paper handed to you is in a different language.

You struggle to talk to the front desk clerk, who only speaks a broken version of your language. You take your best guess at how to fill in the blanks on the intake form. On top of being sick, you’re anxious because you don’t know what you’re signing. The healthcare system just doesn’t speak your language.

This is a common situation for non-native English speakers. These, and other similar disparities, are what the Washington State Coalition for Language Access (WASCLA) was created to prevent.

WASCLA was founded in 2005 as a group of lawyers, law enforcement personnel, interpreters, translators and court workers dedicated to improving immigrants’ access to services.

The coalition’s main aim is to bring service providers in Washington into compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or national origin in federally funded programs. In 2000, Bill Clinton issued an executive order to improve Title VI protections for people with Limited English Proficiency (LEP), and WASCLA was created with the support of the Washington state legislature five years later. More.

See: The Seattle Globalist

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