Coronavirus (COVID-19): Language Access Needs in the United States

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Language Access Needs in the United States | Telelanguage

As organizations experience an increased need for language access due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), we are reminded that when emergencies strike, emergency preparedness and response are critical for public safety. Responding to notices and other critical information can be stressful for everyone, but it can cause even more strain for Limited English Proficient (LEP) and Deaf and Hard of Hearing populations.

Access to professional interpreters and translated materials are key to public health and safety during a crisis.  Why is language access crucial? 

  • 25.1 million people in the United States (over the age of 5) are considered Limited English Proficient (LEP), meaning they have reported speaking English less than “very well”.
  • There are more than 350 languages spoken in U.S. homes
  • 1 in 5 U.S. residents speaks a language other than English at home
  • Approximately 35 million Americans are hearing impaired.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases in the United States

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and on March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency.

Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Cases in the U.S. (Updated March 19th, 2020)

Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 Cases in the U.S. (Updated March 19th, 2020)


Poor planning to provide language support for LEP and Deaf and Hard of Hearing populations can lead to loss of crucial information, misinformation, late delivery of information and communication gaps. A breakdown in language access, especially during a national or state-level emergency, threatens public safety for the entire community.

Government agencies, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act,  must provide qualified interpreters to ensure effective communication.

How can we ensure proper communication with the Limited English Proficient and Deaf and Hard of Hearing during emergencies?


Emergency Preparedness

Emergency preparedness and training are key. Language Access Planning benefits the entire community. Taking action to anticipate, and to respond to, the needs of LEP and Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities helps emergency management plans succeed.


Here are 4 important levels of emergency response for government agencies to consider:


  • Policies and Procedures


  • Emergency Preparedness


  • Emergency Response


  • Recovery


Understanding Language Needs in the United States

Spanish is the most common non-English language spoken in the United States with 40.5 million speakers (2016).

According to the 2016 American Community Survey, languages  spoken at home with over 1 million speakers (over the age of ) include:

  1. Spanish – 40.5 million
  2. Chinese (including Mandarin and Cantonese) – 3.4 million
  3. Tagalog (including Filipino) – 1.7 million
  4. Vietnamese – 1.5 million
  5. Arabic – 1.2 million
  6. French – 1.2 million
  7. Korean – 1.1 million

Learn about language diversity in the 15 largest metropolitan areas of the United States here.

Interactive Map of Languages: 3 Most Common Non-English Languages Spoken in Your State

How Comprehensive Language Access Programs Positively Impact Government Agencies

1.) Lowers costs by maximizing resources and cutting down on time and resources spent dealing with miscommunication errors.

2.) Achieve and enhance government compliance and regulatory compliance with relevant legislation:

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
  • Affordable Care Act (ACA), Section 1557
  • The Joint Commission
  • Fraud, Waste and Abuse Act (FWA)
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
  • FEMA
  • Homeland Security
  • Natural Disaster and Border Contingencies

3.) Increases the efficiency and productivity of public services

4.) Aids in a positive response to disaster preparedness and public safety

5.) Promotes community integration in immigrant, refugee, and LEP communities

6.) Increases staff adoption and reduces staff frustration

7.) Enables government agencies to build a higher level of trust and satisfaction with the communities they serve


Emergency Preparedness: The Telelanguage Difference

TW-Free-resourcesMany of our competitors resell our rare languages, as they’re unable to provide our range of languages on-demand. In addition, our technology uptime is the best in the industry. Two examples of our surge volume capacity involve Hurricane Matthew and the Level 3 internet outage – both in 2016. During these two events, we had competitors whose systems failed. We were able to reroute their calls through our servers and data center, seamlessly, to avoid disruptions in service.


In February of 2018, one of our competitors experienced a large, regional outage. This competitor happened to be the primary vendor on a large State of Texas contract that we were a secondary vendor on. During the outage, all of the calls were rerouted to us. At the time, neither our client’s management or administration were aware of the outage, until we brought it to their attention. Our client was so impressed with our coverage of this event that they have since moved us to a primary role within the contract. This has had a snowball effect in being awarded additional large contracts within Texas over the last several months. This flexibility and security provide us a 99.999% uptime, and our customers complete peace of mind.

Language Access Solutions: Telelanguage Can Help

Skilled and professional interpreters help government agencies to overcome language and cultural barriers to ensure effective communication is taking place and everyone is understood. Telelanguage has extensive experience in multiple areas that require the use of government interpreters, and we provide telephonic, on-site and video remote interpreting to our clients at the levels of Federal, State, County, Municipality, etc.

Our U.S. based interpreters are:

  • Medically Certified
  • 9-1-1 Trained
  • Nationally Certified
  • Court Qualified


Comprehensive Language Support Services Available 24/7, 365 Days a Year:

Telephonic Interpretation Services

Video Remote Interpretation Services

On-site Interpretation Services

Translation Services


Language Access: We Serve Your Industry

  • Government
  • Healthcare (Hospitals, Private Practices, Clinics, Telehealth, Emergency Medicine, etc)
  • Business
  • Social Services
  • Police / Fire / 911
  • Financial Services
  • Insurance
  • Telecommunications (Call Centers, Help Desks)
  • Travel / Tourism / Hospitality
  • Legal / Judicial
  • Education (K-12, Higher Education)
  • Transportation


Why Telelanguage

Certified and Skilled Interpreters: You can trust that the voice on the other end of the line has the professional training to provide the quality service you need. Telelanguage interpreters are industry-certified, superior-trained and 100% U.S. based.

Fast Connections: Whether it’s a scheduled meeting or an unexpected call, we understand that our clients cannot wait on hold. When you need quick access to an interpreter, Telelanguage offers the fastest connect times in the industry (average 7 seconds).

Global Access: On-demand interpreter services connect you to a professional interpreter wherever you need them – no matter where you are in the world. You’ll always have access to a professional interpreter.

Quality Language Support: Telelanguage offers more than 300 languages so you can rest assured that you will be able to communicate effectively in any language.

No Monthly Minimums:  With one low per-minute rate, you can access an interpreter at any time. You will only pay for the minutes you need with absolutely no hidden fees or minimums.

Telelanguage offers extremely competitive rates that are all-inclusive of training, implementation, reporting, invoicing, and the highest quality, U.S.-based interpreters. Our over the phone interpreter rates start as low as $0.55 per minute.


Getting Started with Telelanguage

Telelanguage makes the implementation of language support services easy for your agency and for your staff. All auxiliary and support materials are available for free, and we offer free cultural awareness training to aid staff in communicating effectively with patients of different cultures and languages. Support is available 24/7, 365 days a year so you never have to worry. Telelanguage has your language access and support needs covered. We will tailor a plan to meet the specific needs of your agency to improve the quality of your language services.  

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Learn more about the importance of offering language services as an organization. Download the Free Whitepaper: Connecting Humanity Through Technology

5,000+ interpreters ready to communicate in over 300 languages. Since 1991, Telelanguage has helped government organizations at the level of Federal, State, County, and Municipality to improve language access programs through high-quality language interpretation and translation services.

Telelanguage provides federal, state, and local agencies a better way of communicating in the event of an emergency, and in emergency preparedness planning. Join the government organizations we help every day who trust Telelanguage as their dedicated language services partner! Contact us for a free quote and demo.

Try Telelanguage Language Services Free with Free Trial Minutes

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Certified medical interpreters ready to speak in over 300 languages

Call Telelanguage today at 888-983-5352

Professional interpreter services available 24/7, 365 days a year