H.C.R. NO.


















WHEREAS, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000d), provides that "No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance"; and


WHEREAS, according to the 2000 Census, 290,000 of Hawaii's 1.2 million people, or approximately twenty-four per cent of the population, speak a language other than English at home; this includes over 250,000 persons who speak an Asian or Pacific Island language; and


WHEREAS, for this portion of Hawaii's population for whom English is not their primary language and who have identified themselves as having limited English proficiency, language is a barrier that often prohibits them from fully participating in the community and undermines their efforts to become self-sufficient and productive; and


WHEREAS, the Legislature recognized and acknowledged that language is a barrier for individuals with limited English proficiency who live in Hawaii and passed Act 290, Session Laws of Hawaii 2006; and


WHEREAS, Hawaii's language access law seeks to break down language barriers by requiring every state agency, and any organization that receives state funding and provides services to the public, to "take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to services, programs, and activities by limited English proficient persons", free of charge and regardless of what language the person speaks; and


WHEREAS, as a result of Hawaii's language access law, the Office of Language Access was established to promote equal access and full participation for persons with limited English proficiency through oversight, coordination, and technical assistance to state and state-funded entities and by reviewing and monitoring language access plans; and


WHEREAS, the Office of Language Access has promoted language access through education and training to state agencies and state-funded entities and through outreach to the general public at community events, conferences, and in public service announcements; and


WHEREAS, many residents in Hawaii are still unaware of the language access law and of the everyday challenges faced by limited English proficient persons: when a patient sees a doctor and the doctor only speaks English, but the patient speaks only Chinese; when a state social worker meets with a client applying for food stamps and the social worker speaks English and Ilocano, but the client speaks only Marshallese; or when a public school nurse contacts a child's parents and the nurse speaks English, but the child's mother speaks only Korean; and


WHEREAS, ongoing education and efforts are needed to ensure that language access becomes the standard in the provision of government services; and


WHEREAS, declaring a month dedicated to the promotion of language access will allow the Office of Language Access, in conjunction with community organizations, to showcase the language access law, its requirements, and its benefits; now, therefore,


BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the Twenty-fourth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2008, the Senate concurring, that the Governor is urged to designate September 2008 as Language Access Month to raise awareness of the language access laws and the provision of equal access to state and state-funded government services; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the Governor and the Executive Director of the Office of Language Access.









Report Title:

Language Access Month