Illinois Department of Public HealthBruce Rauner, Governor

Language Assistance Services Act Summary

Purpose

This law was passed to ensure access to health care information and services for limited-English-speaking, non-English-speaking and deaf patients whose primary language is sign language.

Health facilities are required to

  •  Use interpreters that are fluent in English and the necessary language of the patient and can accurately speak, read, and readily interpret the necessary second language. Interpreters must be able to translate the names of body parts and to completely describe symptoms and injuries in both languages.
  • Adopt and review annually a policy for providing language assistance services to patients with language or communication barriers. The policy shall include procedures for providing an interpreter where limited-English-speaking or non-English-speaking individuals constitute at least five percent of the patients served annually by the health facility.
  • Post notices that advise patients about the availability of interpreters, the languages offered, the procedure for obtaining an interpreter, and a contact number to submit any complaints concerning interpreter services. The notices must be posted in the emergency room, the admitting area, the facility entrance, and the outpatient area.
  • Inform employees of the language services available at the facility and that employees are required to make those services available.

Health facilities may do one or more of the following:

  • Record the patient's primary language and dialect on the patient's medical chart, hospital bracelet, bedside notice, or nursing card,
  • Prepare and maintain, as needed, a list of interpreters who are proficient in sign language and a list of languages of the population of the geographical area served by the facility.
  • Review standardized written forms, waivers, documents, and informational materials available to patients on admission to determine which of the documents should be translated into languages other than English,
  • Provide non-bilingual staff with standardized pictures and phrase sheets for use in routine communication with patients or residents who have language or communication barriers.
  • Develop community liaison groups to enable the facility and the limited-English-speaking, non-English-speaking, and deaf communities to ensure the adequacy of the interpreter services.

Health Facility Language Assistance Services Complaints

A person who believes that the act or its rules may have been violated may submit a complaint to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) by calling the hotline at 800-252-4343 during regular business hours or address written complaints by mail to:

Illinois Department of Public Health
525 W. Jefferson Longterm Care CCR
Springfield, Illinois 62761-0001

Address email complaints to: dph.ccr@illinois.gov

View the Language Assistance Services Act here.