Cultural Competence and Language Access

Cultural competence is the ability of providers and organizations to effectively deliver health care services that meet the social, cultural, and linguistic needs of patients.  A culturally competent health care system can help improve health outcomes and quality of care and can contribute to the elimination of racial and ethnic health disparities. Language barriers, cultural misunderstandings, and low English language literacy levels are a few factors that contribute to poor health outcomes for many populations. Organizations can address issues related to culture in a number of ways, including:
  • Ensuring services are available in the languages spoken by dominant cultural and ethnic groups
  • Ensuring written material in low English language literacy levels
  • Employing providers and staff that reflect the diversity of the population served
  • Implement policies and procedures designed to eliminate bias and discrimination 

Cultural Competence and Language Access Training and Technical Assistance 

Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit, U.S. Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ)

Cultural Competence and Language Access Resources

The National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care (The National CLAS Standards) Establish a framework to serve the nation's increasingly diverse communities
Language Access Plan U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013

For more information, contact Erin Sologaistoa at