Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards

Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards are guidelines to ensure that we are responding to diverse languages, health beliefs, cultural practices, and health literacy levels. The standards help us provide the people we serve with effective, equitable, and high-quality care. more

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provides training, resources, and support to RIDOH staff and Rhode Islanders to help them fulfill the CLAS Standards.

Learn more about the history of CLAS Standards.

CLAS Resources

I Speak Cards

I Speak Cards can be shared with community members who have limited English proficiency. They are designed to help communicate the need for an interpreter. One side of each card is in English and the other is in the user's primary language. Downloadable versions of these cards are available below.

Language Identification Chart

This chart can be used to help identify the primary language of a community member. Show them the sheet to help them find their language and point to it.

Request CLAS Training

To request a training at your organization, please email ada.amobi@health.ri.gov with the subject heading “Request for CLAS Training”. Include your organization name, contact name, and phone number.

CLAS Standards-Related Complaints

RIDOH is committed to helping improve the implementation of CLAS Standards in Rhode Island. We welcome confidential feedback about areas of improvement regarding CLAS Standards at RIDOH or other community facilities. Some examples of complaints include the need for better access to translation or interpretation services, or incidences of cultural insensitivity. You can give confidential feedback on our Contact Us web page or by calling the RIDOH Health Information Line at 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711.

CLAS Standards-Related Laws

RI General Law § 23-17-54

Under Rhode Island General Law § 23-17-54, all hospitals and emergency care facilities:

  • Must provide a qualified interpreter, and
  • Must post multilingual notices for, at minimum, the top three most commonly spoken languages other than English.
  • The receipt of interpreter services should not be deemed as a receipt of a benefit under any provisions of law restricting benefits or assistance based on immigrant status.
  • more

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. more Failure to provide limited English proficiency (LEP) individuals with meaningful access to programs and services may constitute discrimination based on national origin under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. more

Executive Order 13166

Executive Order 13166 requires recipients of federal financial assistance to take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access for LEP persons to the services and care provided by their agency or organization. (more)

Such agencies include:

  • Anyone receiving Medicare or Medicaid payments (hospitals, clinics, etc.)
  • Anyone receiving a direct loan, contract, grant, payment-in-kind, or subcontract
  • Public transportation
  • Airports
  • Public facilities such as schools, parks, and libraries
  • State agencies
  • Agencies who receive any federal funding