It is the policy of the NJ Council on Developmental Disabilities (NJCDD) to provide timely, meaningful access for individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP) to all programs and activities. All personnel shall provide free language assistance services to LEP individuals whom they encounter or whenever an LEP person requests language assistance services. All personnel will inform members of the public that language assistance services are available free of charge to LEP persons and that the NJCDD will provide these services to them.
The purpose of this policy is to establish effective guidelines, consistent with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Executive Order 13166, for NJCDD personnel to follow when providing services to, or interacting with, individuals who are LEP. Following these guidelines is essential to the success of our mission to assure that individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) in New Jersey, and their families, participate in the design of and have access to needed community services, individualized supports, and other forms of assistance that promote self-determination, independence, productivity, integration, and inclusion in all facets of life through culturally competent programs. It is also crucial to achieve our vision, that all individuals with I/DD, regardless of language or language proficiency, should be participating, equally-included members of their communities who are able to make real choices and have control over their own lives, have the freedom to strive, excel, and make mistakes, are in a position to achieve personal goals and affect policy and process decisions that affect their lives, and have the same rights, privileges, responsibilities, and opportunities of as any other New Jersey resident.
The NJCDD has developed a Language Access Plan to ensure compliance with Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 19641 and Executive Order 131662, to ensure equity for individuals who are LEP, and to achieve our goal of linguistic competence and responsiveness. The National Center for Cultural Competence defines linguistic competence as “The capacity of an organization and its personnel to communicate effectively, and convey information in a manner that is easily understood by diverse groups including persons of limited English proficiency, those who have low literacy skills or are not literate, individuals with disabilities, and those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Linguistic competence requires organizational and provider capacity to respond effectively to the health and mental health literacy needs of populations served. The organization must have policy, structures, practices, procedures, and dedicated resources to support this capacity.”3 NJCDD recognizes that language is a crucial aspect of culture. Language is the primary vehicle for communicating one’s knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and social expectations. NJCDD defines linguistic responsiveness as supporting the learning, development, understanding, and engagement of people from diverse language backgrounds in the policies, programs and practices of our work in the mode of communication that works best for their participation.
Download the NJCDD Language Access Plan Here
3 Goode & Jones (modified 2009). National Center for Cultural Competence, Georgetown University Center for Child & Human Development