What if I do not speak English?

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus
Reviewed January 2018

If English is not your primary language, DTA must provide you with a bilingual DTA worker or communicate through a translation service. When calling the DTA Assistance Line, DTA has a recording with the prompts you can push to get service in your language. 

As of January 2016, the DTA Assistance Line has language capacity in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Vietnamese and a separate prompt to push for other languages.

If you select a language other than English, then:

  • You should be connected to a bilingual DTA worker, OR
  • The DTA worker should add a bilingual DTA interpreter to do a three way call with you, OR
  • The DTA worker should use their language line interpreter service.

Does DTA have SNAP applications in other languages?​

The online application is currently in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.  If you are applying for SNAP online through the Virtual Gateway (see Can I apply through the Internet?), you should indicate your primary language in the “Personal Information” section on the drop-down menu labeled “Spoken Language”.

DTA currently has paper applications in 12 languages beyond English: Spanish, Portuguese, French, Haitian Creole, Chinese, Vietnamese, Khmer, Korean, Russian, Italian, Polish, and Arabic.  Be sure to write down the language you prefer in the first section of the SNAP application that says: Information About You.

DTA currently only sends SPAN notices and forms in English and Spanish. With all notices DTA sends flier in other languages recommending you get the information translated.

Advocacy Reminders:

  • Under federal law, DTA must provide you with an interpreter if you need one. DTA should not tell you to bring your own interpreter. See Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d. DTA should not tell you to have a family member interpret for you.
  • Federal SNAP law also requires DTA to have certain written materials in other languages other if there are at least 100 households in the area served by the DTA office that speak that language. 7 C.F.R. § 272.4(b)(3). Issues related to an Interim Report or Recertification may not be valid if it was not sent in your primary language. 
  • For more information on the federal and state government’s duties to persons with limited English proficiency (LEP), see Lep.gov and Executive Order 13166.  For SNAP eligibility and benefits information in 35 languages, see Documents Available in Other Languages.

DTA Policy Guidance:

DTA Online Guide:  Cross Programs > Interpreter Services > Department Interpreter Services and Guidelines for providing Interpreter Services

Additional Guidance
  • Interpretation services must be offered at no cost to LEP clients and DTA cannot turn a client away or tell them to come back due to lack of an interpreter.  If LEP client wants to use own adult interpreter they must be advised DTA will provide a professional interpreter free of charge. Children over 12 may interpret only to schedule an appointment. Children under age 12 must never be asked to interpret.  DTA PPER Email 2015-24 (July 1, 2015), DTA Ops Memo 2013-11 (March 19, 2013)

Show DTA Policy Guidance

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
Monday-Friday
between
9am and 4pm