Skip to Content
Agencies | Governor
Search Virginia.Gov

Departmental Instruction 209 Ensuring Access to Language and Communications Supports

Communication and the Quality Connection

Safety net providers, such as state facilities and community services, deliver a significant level of care to uninsured, Medicaid, and other vulnerable patients who include a disproportionately high number of individuals with language and communication barriers. This makes the development of language access services even more critical our settings.

When communication support is integrated throughout facility operations, the reduction of disparities and increasing diversity can also lead to:

  • increased patient satisfaction scores
  • have a positive impact on reduction of avoidable readmissions
  • eliminate unwarranted variations in care
  • extended lengths of stay

Utilizing effective communication practices is critical for determining appropriate diagnosis, treatment, and delivery of services in the behavioral health and developmental services system. Multiple studies illustrate the direct connection between quality of care, positive outcomes, customer satisfaction, and the provision of effective language services for individuals with communication or language needs.

Communication and the Fiscal Connection

There is a strong economic argument for undertaking appropriate efforts to enhance language access with research citing the average cost of interpreting services is $279 per year (Jacobs, 2004).

The OMB analysis cited above suggests that the additional costs for language services are relatively small compared with the gaps in health care access and medical spending that now exist for individuals that use communication supports. The amounts needed to pay for language services (0.5 percent, according to the OMB estimate) are far less than the large disparities in medical spending that exist between white patients and Latino and Asian patients (Ku, Flores, 2005).

Communication and the Policy Connection

DI 209 states that State hospitals and training centers operated by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (the Department) shall ensure meaningful access for all individuals receiving their services and for individuals’ authorized representatives who help them to make informed decisions. This policy ensures compliance with the §51.5-40 of the Code of Virginia, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, The Joint Commission (TJC) Standards, and federal and state regulations.

Updated in 2014, one of the most important revisions in this policy is the additional ability for the OCLC and the State Coordinator for Services for Persons Who Are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late Deafened, or DeafBlind to support the development and review existing facility language access plans annually to provide consultation, assure compliance, and support corrective action as well as review annually, the availability and utilization of appropriate assistive technology equipment.

Read the full policy DI 209 Ensuring Access to Language and Communication Supports

DI209 Webinar Slides