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Overcoming language barriers is crucial as our city and nation become more multi-ethnic and multilingual.
The Equal Access Office ensures limited-English-proficient citizens equal access to government services so they may actively participate in all levels of government. Our office oversees language assistance services in City departments and agencies.
How Our Office Came About
We’re proud that on May 8, 2001, Oakland became the first city in the nation to pass an Equal Access to Services Ordinance to remove language barriers that limited-English speakers encounter when using City services. The Equal Access Office was established after the Ordinance was enacted.
What We Do
The Equal Access Office ensures that City departments comply with the Equal Access to Services Ordinance by:
- Offering bilingual services and language interpretation when a substantial portion of Oakland citizens using a City service are non-English speaking or limited-English speaking
- Taking an active role in staff development, screening and on-going monitoring of City departments
- Consulting with Department of Human Resources Management to recruit employees that sufficiently represent the number of limited-English speaking constituents
- Overseeing professional and citizen training programs to increase the participation and achievement of underrepresented groups.
For more information: Contact Us.
Languages Most Needed in Oakland
The Equal Access to Services Ordinance targets languages spoken by 10,000 or more Oakland residents with limited English speaking ability. According to the 2000 US Census report and the 2008-2010 American Community Survey data (from Global Information System), Spanish and Chinese residents meet the criteria: 12.68% of Oakland residents speak Spanish, and 5.56% speak Chinese.
Oakland’s need for language access is growing: In 2010, 40% of Oakland residents spoke a non-English language at home, compare to 37% in 2000 and 30% in 1990.
For related Oakland census charts, please go to Census Information.
Each year the Equal Access Office presents an annual report to inform the City Council of its accomplishment over the prior fiscal year. The reports are informal in nature. Recent reports are available below. For reports prior to FY 2007-2008, please use the City's Legislative Search feature.
File a Complaint
The Equal Access Office allows people to provide feedback or file complaints on suspected violations of the Equal Access to Services Ordinance. Visit here for details on how to File a Complaint.
The Equal Access Office provides many kinds of language assistance to Oakland residents. Click here for a list of Language Assistance accommodations.
Translated Documents and Resources
The Equal Access Office provides translation services to City Departments. To see documents and City services previously translated in various languages, visit Translated Documents.
To better serve limited-English-proficient citizens, the Equal Access Office will continue to gather translated non-City documents in different languages, visit here for Other Resources.