Language Access Plan

The Employment Development Department (EDD) is committed to providing timely and meaningful multilingual services to our customers. Our language access plan outlines efforts to improve access for limited English proficient (LEP) individuals – people whose primary language is not English and who have limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English. This includes deaf and hard of hearing individuals who may need assistance from sign language interpreters.

Efforts across the Department

Established in 2022, the Language Access Office (LAO) works to expand our multilingual services. The LAO’s responsibilities include coordinating, monitoring, and implementing our language access program. The LAO:

  • Develops policies.
  • Conducts research and data analysis.
  • Provides training and technical assistance to staff.
  • Works with LEP communities to get feedback and foster multilingual best practices.
  • Helps ensure programs and services are compliant with state and federal language access laws.

About 75 percent of our employees provide direct service to the public. Every year, these employees and their supervisors complete training to effectively engage customers who prefer languages other than English. Training includes:

  • Documenting and checking language preferences.
  • Obtaining interpreter services and working with interpreters.
  • Answering and making California Relay Service calls.
  • Identifying and addressing language barriers.
  • Relying on professional interpreter services rather than family members.

The EDD will establish a Multilingual Access Advisory Committee for community review and to get feedback. The committee will advise on language considerations that affect people seeking and receiving our services and benefits. The committee will be convened by the Language Access Office and members will include representatives from community organizations working with deaf and hard of hearing and LEP communities.

Efforts Related to Unemployment Benefits

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many LEP individuals experienced challenges seeking unemployment benefits. Assembly Bill 138 (Budget Committee) outlined new requirements for improving unemployment benefits language accessibility at our Department. In line with the timelines established in the bill, the EDD will implement the mandates to better serve in these critical areas.

New policy requires that all applications for unemployment, including paper and online, ask for the applicant’s preferred written and spoken language. In addition, our language resources webpages encourage applicants to provide their language preferences. Combined, this assists the EDD to provide appropriate, no-cost language assistance to our customers.

We have certified bilingual and multilingual employees who directly serve customers in several languages. These employees:

  • Review applications and other submitted documents.
  • Answer and make calls related to claims.
  • Process claims.
  • Conduct determination interviews.
  • Perform other duties using their language skills.

Customers who need to contact unemployment by phone can reach bilingual employees directly by calling these language phone lines:

  • English and Spanish: 1-800-300-5616
  • Cantonese: 1-800-547-3506
  • Mandarin: 1-866-303-0706
  • Vietnamese: 1-800-547-2058
  • TTY/RTT: 1-800-815-9387
  • California Relay Service (711): Provide 1-800-300-5616 to the operator

By the end of 2022, bilingual employees will staff unemployment language lines in Korean, Tagalog, and Armenian. 

We give all staff access to language assistance resources in more than 150 languages through professional service vendors. The use of teletypewriter (TTY) and California Relay Services provides language assistance to deaf and hard of hearing individuals. This allows LEP callers on the unemployment English line to request an interpreter in any language in real time. If an interpreter is not available, staff will contact the caller with the assistance of an interpreter within five days (unless a longer response time is required to obtain appropriate language assistance). Response and appeal deadlines, if applicable, may be extended by the number of days needed to provide language assistance.

The EDD is implementing multiple translation projects to improve access to written information. Upcoming initiatives include:

  • Making vital unemployment information documents available in the top 15 non-English languages. ”Vital information” means information necessary to understand how to obtain aid, benefits, services, or training. Vital documents that are not personalized will be available on our language resources pages
  • Launching multilingual unemployment pages on our website. Important unemployment information will be available in the top seven non-English languages spoken by adults in California. The pages will help individuals navigate important information to access unemployment benefits and services.
  • Expanding the use of Babel Notices. A Babel Notice is mailed or emailed with a vital information form and explains how to obtain language services to understand the form’s information. Babel Notices are available in 20 languages. 
  • Making Unemployment Insurance Online, our online claim filing system, available in six more languages. The languages, in addition to English and Spanish, are:
    • Simplified and Traditional Chinese
    • Vietnamese
    • Korean
    • Tagalog
    • Armenian

The EDD has established the Unemployment Language Opportunity Program, a two-year (2022-24) community-based organization (CBO) grant program. Grant recipients were chosen by a competitive application process to design and implement education and outreach activities. These activities are designed to expand unemployment access to one or more targeted LEP communities in California.

 Topics include:

  • Unemployment benefit rights and information.
  • Claim filing.
  • Exercising benefit appeal rights.
  • Accessing multilingual unemployment services and resources.
  • Filing language access complaints.

Language Access Initiatives

2022 Initiatives

Initiative Completion Date Impact
Real-time interpretation by EDD bilingual staff or professional interpreters. January 2022 Customers can receive assistance regardless of their spoken language when they contact the EDD.
Early identification of claimant language needs. January 2022 Prompts EDD staff to anticipate and seek language assistance when necessary.
Market and promote multilingual services to the public. March 2022 Informs the public about new language access to services, information, and benefits.
Establish the EDD’s Language Access Office. May 2022 Enables coordinated language access efforts and technical support.
Establish the Unemployment Language Opportunity Program. This provides $2 million in grants for community-based organizations for outreach and education to limited English proficient (LEP) and deaf and hard of hearing communities. July 2022 Fosters better understanding of unemployment benefits through outreach to multilingual communities by organizations who serve deaf and hard of hearing as well as LEP communities.
Addition of unemployment dedicated language phone lines in Korean, Tagalog, and Armenian. December 2022 Provides direct assistance to Korean, Tagalog, and Armenian speakers by EDD bilingual employees.
Translation of unemployment vital information documents in Spanish, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Korean, Armenian, Arabic, Farsi, Russian, Hindi, Mon-Khmer (Cambodian), Thai, Punjabi, and Japanese.

December 2022

Provides greater access to vital unemployment benefit information for these language speakers.

2023 Initiatives

Initiative Completion Date Impact
Establish Multilingual Access Advisory Committee. April 2023 Provides direct input and community review of EDD multilingual issues and services.

2024 Initiatives

Initiative Completion Date Impact
Web-based unemployment language resources in Spanish, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Korean, and Armenian. February 2024 Provides in-language information for filing unemployment claims.
Unemployment Insurance Online (UI Online) will be available in Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Korean, and Armenian. April 2024 Provides greater application access to unemployment for these language speakers.