Language Access Means Equal Rights
The Language Access Network of San Francisco
Did you know that since 2001, San Francisco’s Language Access Ordinance requires that the majority of city departments serve community members whose ability to speak English is limited? That means that major city departments must provide in-language services to community members who speak Spanish, Chinese and Tagalog. It also means that they must provide written materials about programs, services and benefits in these languages. And they must post notices in their offices letting the public know that translation services are available.
San Francisco has one of the best language access laws in the country, but it takes a lot of work to see that it is enforced. PODER is one of seven organizations that is part of the Language Access Network of San Francisco committed to guaranteeing that the law is upheld. Access to services and government hearings in a language you understand means your voice can be heard.
Know your rights
• You have the right to request translation services from the majority of City departments. This applies to the primary languages spoken in San Francisco, Spanish, Chinese and Tagalog.
• You have the right to an oral interpreter at any public meeting or hearing of City boards, commissions or departments, if you request one at least 48 hours in advance.
• You have the right to file a complaint if you were not served by bilingual Spanish, Chinese or Tagalog staff; if an important letter or form was not translated or if your advance request for an interpreter was denied.
How to file a complaint
1. Contact PODER or one of the other community organizations belonging to the Language Access Network listed below.
2. Call 311. Tell the operator what language service was needed, the department or service you were trying to access and the date and time of the incident
3. Contact the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs. Call 415-554-5098 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the San Francisco Language Access Network can give you advice or take your complaint:
African Advocacy Network: 415-503-1032
Arab Resource & Organizing Center: 415-861-7444
Central American Resource Center: 415-642-4400
Chinese for Affirmative Action: 415-274-6750
Filipino Community Center: 415-333-6267
Mujeres Unidas y Activas: 415-621-8140