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You have the right to a free interpreter

Produced by Massachusetts Language Access Coalition (MassLAC)
Reviewed July 2023


You have the right to a free interpreter and important written information in your language at most:

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You have the right to:

  • talk to the court about your case,
  • apply for benefits,
  • talk to your child’s teacher,
  • talk to the police or your doctor, and
  • get important written information,

all in your own language.

Programs that get money from the federal government must give everyone access to services. If you do not speak English well, you still have this right. Those programs cannot discriminate against you because of your national origin or your language. This means the staff should:

  • Communicate with you in your language,
  • Serve you as quickly as possible,
  • Treat you with respect.

What if I can speak a little bit of English?

You still have the right to an interpreter. If you are more comfortable in your native language than in English, you have the right to an interpreter. You need to understand everything your worker says, and your worker needs to understand everything that you say. Otherwise, there might be problems with your case.

Courts, schools, hospitals, police, and government programs all must follow the law, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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