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 CPUC 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.
Bilingual Services Coordinator
The CPUC has a Bilingual Services Coordinator that:
- 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 CPUC 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 CPUC’s services and benefits.
- Manages the CPUC’s ongoing program to increase the number and types of CPUC-generated consumer information material available in languages.
- Coordinates review and approval of bilingual consumer education materials prepared by contractors for CPUC-directed public purpose programs throughout the state.
- Coordinates the Biennial Bilingual Services Survey.
CPUC Roles and Responsibilities
CPUC staff has a responsibility to:
- 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 CPUC established procedures.
- Participate in the biennial language survey.
CPUC Supervisors and Manager have the responsibility to 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.
- 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.
The CPUC has the following responsibilities:
- 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 CPUC 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 CPUC is committed to hiring an appropriate number of certified bilingual employees for each non-English speaking group that represents a minimum of 5 percent of the population served by a local office.
- For languages for which the CPUC does not have certified bilingual staff, the CPUC 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 CPUC. Examples of such materials include informal complaint forms, materials relating to obtaining and retaining CPUC-regulated licenses or certifications, and information on how to participate in CPUC proceedings, hearings, or meetings.
- The CPUC 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 CPUC 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 CPUC met the 5 percent threshold.
- The CPUC’s policy is to provide oral translation services upon request at all CPUC meetings, formal proceedings, hearings, public participation hearings, and community-based forums; this includes American Sign Language.
Complaint Resolution Process
The CPUC’s Public Advisor’s Office, which oversees the Bilingual Services Office, will address any complaint brought to the CPUC for denial of assistance in a given language.