USDA unveils language access plan for enhanced program accessibility

USAgNet - 11/21/2023

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has taken a significant step towards inclusivity and equity with the release of a department-wide language access plan. This initiative is in line with the USDA's mission to provide leadership in various sectors, including agriculture, nutrition, and rural development.

The plan, coinciding with the anniversary of Attorney General Merrick B. Garland's language access memorandum, aims to ensure that individuals with limited English proficiency receive meaningful access to USDA's resources and programs.

Tom Vilsack emphasized the importance of this plan in making USDA's services more accessible and equitable. He remarked on the daily efforts of USDA staff to enhance the department's services and programs. The plan involves USDA mission areas, agencies, and staff in ensuring effective communication in all programs and activities, and compliance with federal civil rights regulations.

Dr. Penny Brown Reynolds, USDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, highlighted that equitable access to services is a fundamental right in the United States. The plan's implementation requires collaboration across the department, focusing on comprehensive mechanisms to facilitate equity. This includes planning, outreach, stakeholder engagement, service delivery, and performance evaluation.

The language access plan reflects USDA's commitment to taking reasonable steps to ensure accessibility for individuals with limited English proficiency. The plan can be found on USDA's website and, maintained by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

Additionally, the USDA will join the new Federal Language Access Working Group, led by the Department of Justice. This group will enable federal agencies to share best practices and language access resources, furthering the goal of equitable service delivery.

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