Language Access

The City of Durham is committed to advancing language access and ensuring meaningful access to city services, programs, information, and activities to Durham residents who are Limited English Proficient (LEP) or who don't speak English.

What is Language Access?

Language access ensures all LEP individuals have reasonable and equitable access to City services and resources as English-speaking individuals. Limited English Proficient (LEP) speakers are referred to by the U.S. Census and American Community Survey as individuals who speak English less than “very well” – or have the limited ability to speak, read, write or understand English.

Through the City’s Language Access Plan, residents can:

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Request interpretation and translation services free of charge when engaging with City services, activities, or programs.

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Receive translation or a translation notice of vital documents and emergency communications in the City’s largest identified LEP language, which is Spanish. Translation in other languages can be made upon request.
people iconKnow City staff and employees will receive education on the diverse cultures represented in our communities and training on how to properly interact and serve non-English speaking residents.
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Submit complaints of discrimination on the basis of LEP status or on the failure to adequately provide services in accordance with the City’s Language Access Plan Policy.

Requesting an Interpreter

View the tabs below for details on how to request an interpreter.

  1. When visiting City facilities
  2. When on the phone with staff
  3. When attending a City event/program or a City Council meeting

Sign that informs people that interpretation services are available in 11 languages.

At several of our public-facing City facilities, you will now see signs to let visitors know that free interpretation services are available—all you need to do is ask a staff member.


The City of Durham recognizes that its residents speak a variety of languages. As part of the City’s commitment to effectively communicate with all members of the public, it is working to reduce the communication gap for residents who speak a language other than English through its Language Access Plan (LAP). The City created and adopted this plan in 2019 to better serve the community and advance language access efforts that make the City a more welcoming and inclusive place to live, work, and play for all. 

The LAP also serves as a tool to ensure compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance, including a local government and its departments, from discriminating based on race, color, or national origin in the provision of any program or activity. The federal government interprets discrimination based upon national origin to include failure to ensure LEP individuals can effectively participate in, or benefit from, federally assisted programs. Residents can be assured the City is committed to supporting their language access rights by setting policies and procedures in place that’ll help them engage and participate in local government.