CONTACT INFORMATION:
dorothy@ncapaonline.org

[***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***]

RELEASE DATE

January 9th, 2024

Washington, D.C. — NCAPA is proud to release a set of recommendations submitted to the White House related to data equity and language access. These are two, high-priority issues that the AANHPI community has been working to advance for decades. The goal of the recommendations is to offer the White House feedback on important next steps the federal government can take on these issues, while also encouraging them to lay out a clear plan for future implementation.

For language access, NCAPA calls on the Biden Administration to implement an Executive Order (EO) that expands and updates EO 13166. NCAPA’s guidance seeks to improve agency outreach, content, and websites for language access resources. Among the recommendations are:

  • Update the Interagency Working Group on Limited English Proficiency to be co-led by the Domestic Policy Council, Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Justice; ensure the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI) is explicitly made a member of the interagency working group.
  • Create a community advisory panel for the interagency working group.
  • Set minimum standards for all federal agencies to abide by for LEP translations that relies on geographic tests to ensure LEP investments, efforts and outreach match community needs across the U.S. and its territories.
  • Improve agency outreach, content and websites for language access resources.
  • Consider mechanism(s) to pilot expansion of additional language translations in the future.
  • Lay out strategy and guidance on appropriation needs in future federal budgets across agencies.

Instead of a blanket approach to language access, which focuses on translating materials into a set number of languages, NCAPA recommends tailoring the translations to the languages actually spoken by people who live in a certain area. This ensures that for someone who is Limited English Proficiency (LEP), regardless of what agency site they go to, the basic steps of how to get to the language they need are the same.

Equitable data collection is also a crucial part of creating a better future for AANHPIs. That is why NCAPA now proposes the creation of the Office of Data Equity, and an associated Presidential Advisory Committee of 21 individuals. NCAPA has also outlined specific metrics to aim for with regards to design, data collection, analysis, usage, and more. One of the key outcomes would be ensuring timely and comprehensive implementation of disaggregated data, such as detailed race and ethnicity standards in federal statistical data collections. Other recommendations include:

  • Ensuring the collection of detailed data is required, including the minimum race and ethnic categories disaggregated by country of origin.
  • Require all federal statistical agencies to extend language access beyond English, Spanish, and Chinese for surveys, forms, and data collection instruments.
  • Require federal agencies to produce detailed data for AA and NHPI population groups at the state, territory, regional, and local levels.
  • Require federal agencies to regularly consult and partner with community organizations to anticipate and mitigate the potential harms when categorizing AA and NHPI populations.
  • Retain and report data on an increasingly multiracial and multiethnic AA and NHPI populations.

“NCAPA is proud to continue championing the importance of data equity and language access and being an advocate for our communities,” said Gregg Orton, National Director of NCAPA. “Lack of data equity and language access means that our community, in many ways, stays invisible and underserved. AANHPIs deserve to be seen and to receive the resources we need to thrive – and that means being able to have services in the languages we are most comfortable using.”

“The Biden Administration has made significant progress in advancing racial equity through improved data collections and the creation of the Equitable Data Working Group,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, Founder and Director of AAPI Data. “It is time to make the work more enduring by creating a permanent Office of Data Equity that ensures timely, effective, and coordinated implementation across all federal statistical agencies.”

“Data equity is one of the most important issues for Southeast Asian American communities. It is imperative that the administration prioritizes community voices, engagement, and expertise as they continue to work on this issue,” said Quyen Dinh, Executive Director of SEARAC. “Our recommendations would ensure that data equity continues to be prioritized while also centering the voices of the most impacted communities.”

“Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, for more than three decades, have fought hard for language access and data equity. When we are counted, we are seen. When we are seen, needs can be met. If our communities continue to face erasure, invisibility, and inadequate access we’ll continue to experience disproportionate negative impacts across education, health, labor, and several other sectors,” said Estella Owoimaha-Church, Executive Director at Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC). “Though we endure and persist, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities deserve to thrive alongside our neighbors and relatives. Language Access and Data Equity create paths of opportunity for traditionally marginalized communities across the U.S.”

John C. Yang, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC said, “Disaggregated data are particularly critical for Asian Americans, who are among our nation’s fastest growing and most diverse racial groups, to ensure the community is accurately counted and our needs are understood. Often viewed as a monolith or homogenous, our communities can differ dramatically across key social and economic indicators. Detailed data are also critical to our ability to break down the stereotype of the ‘model minority,’ which has been used to erase the history of exclusion and discrimination against Asian Americans. We urge the administration to take action to disaggregate data and improve language access. Moreover, civil rights cannot be limited only to those who are able to communicate effectively in English. Provision of interpretation and translation must be improved so that language does not continue to pose a barrier to government services. The benefits of these recommendations will have far reaching implications whose benefits include and extend beyond the Asian American community.”

Adam Carbullido, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO), said, “Language access and data equity are cornerstone issues for AA and NH/PI communities across the country. We appreciate the Biden administration’s progress to expand the federal government’s ability to reach and serve individuals in languages they understand and have their diverse experiences reflected in federal data. However, there is more work to be done, and our recommendations build on these successes so the administration can continue to address the needs of our communities.”

“The AANHPI community faces significant language and cultural barriers to receiving critical government services, including inconsistent and often non-existent language access. From delayed Medicaid services to due process violations, lack of in-language, culturally competent, and holistic services can impact the employment, housing, health care and more of AANHPI people,” said Tuyet Duong, Chief Policy and Government Affairs Officer at the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF). “Language access and gender equity are also inextricably linked. AANHPI women report high rates of workplace harassment in low wage and socially isolated industries and experience compromised access to health care due to immigration restrictions and language barriers. NCAPA’s recommendations for more robust federal language access programs will include more community leaders and thoughtful use of data to create culturally and linguistically tailored materials.”

“These data equity and language access recommendations reflect years of thoughtful consideration and advocacy by AANHPI communities,” said Kavneet Singh, Board Chair of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF). “As the Sikh American experience with bias and hate underscores, governments cannot meaningfully support our communities if our experiences are not counted and services are not accessible. These recommendations are a plan to create a foundation for sustainable and meaningful positive change.”

A copy of the letter NCAPA sent to the White House can be found here.

Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is a coalition of forty-seven national Asian Pacific American organizations that represent the interests of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for our communities’ concerns.