Why Language Access is So Important

(October 2011)

The face of America’s aging population is changing to include a growing number of older adults who have limited English proficiency. However, federal programs, the aging network and private insurance plans all fail to provide services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate.

Global Policy Solution’s Maya Rockeymoore, a panelist at a session on language access at October’s Grantmakers in Aging Annual Conference that I moderated, pointed out that in random calls to area agencies on aging nationwide, few had multilingual capacity or the resources to handle people with limited English capacity.

It is especially troubling that a federally-funded infrastructure such as the triple A’s has not adequately focused on this issue. As a result, ethnic older adults in urban, suburban, and rural settings have serious needs that may go unmet altogether.

As another panelist former Assistant Secretary of Aging Fernando Torres-Gil noted “we need to rebrand the value of having multilingual culture.” I couldn’t agree more. It is why NSCLC remains committed to promoting language access, especially for the elderly poor.


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