I. Policy Statement:
The California Public Utilities Commission is committed to ensuring all its programs and services are accessible to all California residents, including non- or Limited-English Proficient (LEP) individuals in compliance with the Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act.
The Act declares “…effective maintenance and development of a free and democratic society depends on the right and ability of its citizens and residents to communicate with their government and the right and ability of the government to communicate with them.” The Commission fully supports and agrees with this statement, and accordingly makes it the responsibility of all employees to ensure the public is treated with dignity and respect, identifying the language needs of our consumers, and utilizing available bilingual resources to assist consumers, when needed.
II. Bilingual Services Coordinator
The Commission’s Bilingual Services Coordinator:
- Ensures on a regular and timely basis that all divisions that have direct public contact comply with the provisions of the Act and with the Commission’s policy.
- Reviews activities and materials, which either solicit information or inform the public about matters that may affect an individual’s rights, duties or privileges related to the Commission’s services and benefits.
- Manages the Commission’s ongoing program to increase the number and types of Commission-generated consumer information material available in languages.
- Coordinates review and approval of bilingual consumer education materials prepared by contractors for Commission-directed public purpose programs throughout the state.
- Coordinates the Biennial Bilingual Services Survey.
All questions regarding the Commission’s Bilingual Services Policy Statement should be directed to the Bilingual Services Coordinator at Toll Free: 866-494-6186.
III. Client Service Standards:
- Staff Responsibilities
- Make every effort to identify LEP consumers as early as possible during the initial contact.
- Contact a qualified interpreter as soon as possible, to ensure no significant delay in service takes place.
- Promptly address consumer concerns regarding the lack of interpreter and/or translator services to the satisfaction of the consumer, in accordance with Commission established procedures (see item IV below).
- Participate in the biennial language survey.
- Supervisor/Manager Responsibilities – Coordinate with the Bilingual Services Office to:
- Train staff regarding the appropriate procedures for providing services to LEP consumers.
- Provide staff with instructions on how to handle public contacts in languages other than English including, but not limited to, training on how to utilize telephone interpreter services, the language line and in-house bilingual employees. An updated list of the in-house bilingual employees will be maintained on the Commission’s intranet and accessible to all Commission employees.
- Make all translated materials available at all local offices. Where translated documents are unavailable, a qualified interpreter should be available to explain information to LEP consumers
- Inform employees about bilingual pay differential program, and encourage qualified employees to get bilingual certification.
- Commission Responsibilities
- The Commission will participate fully in the biennial language survey to identify its non-English language needs and the primary languages of its clients, in accordance with required procedures.
- The results from the biennial Language Survey will be used to analyze public contacts from non-English speaking population groups. The Commission will also use this information to guide its efforts to ensure adequate and appropriate staffing to meet the demand of all language groups.
- In accordance with applicable laws and rules, the Commission is committed to hiring an appropriate number of certified bilingual employees for each non-English speaking group that represents a minimum of 5% of the population served by a local office.
- For languages for which the Commission does not have certified bilingual staff, the Commission will contract with qualified translator/interpreter service providers to assist LEP consumers by telephone or other means.
- Where appropriate and feasible, each office will make available translated materials that replicate the materials available in English. Priority will be given to materials that provide information to, or require information from, an individual whose rights, duties and/or privileges are impacted by a service or benefit provided by the Commission. Examples of such materials include informal complaint forms, materials relating to obtaining and retaining Commission regulated licenses or certifications, and information on how to participate in Commission proceedings, hearings, or meetings.
- The Commission will maintain a list of translated materials that have been translated in various languages and makes these materials accessible to the non-English speaking and LEP public.
- Each Commission office will post a notice in a public place that advises non-English-speaking public of their right to access services in their native language. The notice will be translated, at a minimum, into the non-English languages for which the Commission met the 5% threshold.
- The Commission’s policy is to provide oral translation services upon request at all Commission meetings, formal proceedings, hearings, public participation hearings, and community-based forums; this includes American Sign Language.
IV. Complaint Resolution Process
The Public Advisor’s Office, which oversees the Bilingual Services Office, will address any complaint brought to the Commission for denial of assistance in a given language.
Public Advisor Office:
- A list of the Commission’s bilingual employees, and the language these employees are certified as proficient is available.
- A list of translated documents and the non-English language in which they are translated are accessible in every office that serves the public and is also at www.cpuc.ca.gov
- Also available for CPUC employees are: Bilingual Dictionaries, Glossaries of Commonly Used Terms; Language Identification Sheets and; internet language consultation sites like Wikipedia.com, RAE.es (Real Academia Española), etc.
- Telephone interpreter services are available to staff immediately through the Commission contract with a language line service.
- Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act: Government Code Sections 7290-7299.8
- Government Code Section 11435.15; Requires PUC to provide language assistance in adjudicative proceedings.
Definition of Terms—According to Government Code Sections 7296-7299:
a. Sufficient Number of Qualified Bilingual Persons: the number of qualified bilingual persons required to provide the same level of services to non-English speaking persons seeking such services.
b. Substantial Number of Non-English Speaking People: members of a group who either do not speak English, or who are unable to effectively communicate in English and who comprise 5% or more of the people served by any local office or facility of a state agency.
c. Qualified Bilingual Person: A person who is proficient in both the English language and the foreign language to be used
…For any state agency, "qualified" means one of the following:
(1) A bilingual person or employee who the State Personnel Board has tested and certified as proficient in the ability to understand and convey in English and a non-English language commonly used terms and ideas, including terms and ideas regularly used in state government.
(2) A bilingual employee who was tested and certified by a state agency or other testing authority approved by the State Personnel Board as proficient in the ability to understand and convey in English and a non-English language commonly used terms and ideas, including terms and ideas regularly used in state government.
(3) An interpreter who has met the testing or certification standards established by the State Personnel Board for outside or contract interpreters, as proficient in the ability to communicate commonly used terms and ideas between the English language and the non-English language to be used and has knowledge of basic interpreter practices, including, but not limited to, confidentiality, neutrality, accuracy, completeness, and transparency.
(b) The determination of what constitutes "qualified" for local agencies, shall be left to the discretion of the local agency.
d. Non-English-Speaking Persons: members of a group who either do not speak English, or who are unable to effectively communicate in English because it is not their native language.
e. Public Contact Position: a position determined by the agency to be one which emphasizes the ability to meet, contact and deal with the public in the performance of the agency’s functions.