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Hawaii’s Language Access Laws

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, almost 290,000 of Hawai’i’s 1.2 million people, or 24% of Hawaii’s population, speak a language other than English at home; this includes over 250,000 persons who speak an Asian or Pacific Island language. For many, English is not their primary language, and they have only a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English. Language barriers often prohibit many residents from fully participating in our community and undermine efforts to become self-sufficient and productive.

In 2006, the legislature recognized and acknowledged that language is a barrier for those living in Hawaii who have identified themselves as being limited English proficient (“LEP”).  Consequently, the legislature passed Act 290, later codified in sections 371-31 to -37, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to ensure that LEP individuals have equal, meaningful access to state-funded services in Hawaii.


  • Applies to state agencies and covered entities that receive state-funding and provide services to the public
  • Requirements – Requires state agencies and covered entities to:
    • Establish a language access plan; and
    • Take reasonable steps to ensure they provide meaningful access to limited English Proficient persons
  • Oral Interpretation – Requires reasonable oral language services that are competent and timely
  • Written Translation – Requires timely, reasonable translation of vital documents
  • Establishes the Office of Language Access to ensure compliance with the law and to provide technical assistance
  • Establishes the Language Access Advisory Council to advise on implementation matters
  • Tracks Federal Language Access Regulations implementing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 200d et seq., regarding prohibition against national origin discrimination affecting LEP persons.


What must I do to comply with the law (for State and state funded agencies)?

Who must comply with Hawaii’s Language Access Law (Diagram)

What are my rights under the law (for LEP persons)?

View Hawaii’s Language Access Laws (Act 290)

View Revisions to Hawaii’s Language Access Laws (Act 008)

HRS 371 Part II