Washington State Language Access Plan


Language access is vital in making sure that people receive news and resources in an effective and timely manner. During the COVID-19 crisis, for instance, we need to ensure that everyone has access to information necessary to keep themselves safe and healthy, to receive financial assistance, and to understand the ever-changing situation.

To that end, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a memo to state agencies detailing a new language access plan that will ensure state agencies can provide vital COVID-19 information to individuals with disabilities and with limited English proficiency.

CAPAA is proud to have contributed to this plan, which was created in response to the community’s outcry for better access to translated materials and interpretation services. All agencies must immediately take steps to implement the plan, which consists of three primary components:

  1. Identifying “vital resources” related to COVID-19 and having them translated into the top 37 languages spoken in Washington State, including 23 commonly spoken APA languages.
  2. Establishing phone interpretation services for those calling in and needing in-language support
  3. Creating a multi-lingual employee pool, and seeing staff financially compensated for providing translation and interpretation services.

This is a monumental step for Washington State in improving access to government resources, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis, and addressing the deepening difficulties we’ve heard our communities are experiencing. You can read the full plan here.

The Washington state Governor’s Office secured funding to translate every cabinet agency’s vital information related to COVID-19 into the top 37 languages spoken by individuals with limited English proficiency in Washington state—these are languages spoken by at least 5% of the state population or 1,000 people. According to 2016 data from OFM, these languages are:

1. Spanish
2. Vietnamese
3. Russian
4. Ukrainian
5. Tagalog
6. Somali
7. Korean
8. Arabic
9. Punjabi
10. Cambodian
11. Chinese (simplified)
12. Chinese (traditional)
13. Marshallese
14. Samoan
15. Hindi
16. Amharic
17. Japanese
18. Telugu
19. Urdu
20. Lao
21. Romanian
22. Tigrinya
23. Farsi
24. Tamil
25. French
26. Nepali
27. Hmong
28. Chuukese
29. Mixteco
30. Swahili
31. German
32. Pilipino/Filipino
33. Burmese
34. Thai
35. Oromo
36. Karen
37. Portuguese