The Language Access Network of San Francisco
Did you know, in San Francisco, there’s a rule called the Language Access Ordinance? Since 2001, most city departments are required to help people who have a difficult time communicating in English and must provide in-language services to community members who speak Spanish, Chinese, and Tagalog. They also have to give out resources and information in people’s language of choice. This rule makes it easier for different people to get the help they need in San Francisco.
San Francisco has one of the best language access laws in the country, but it takes 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 ordinance 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. You must 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
- Contact PODER or one of the other community organizations belonging to the Language Access Network listed below.
- 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.
- Contact the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs at 415-554-5098 or email email@example.com,