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National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS)

The National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care, also known as the National CLAS Standards, are guidelines to ensure that health and healthcare organizations are helping to eliminate health inequities by responding to diverse languages, health beliefs, health literacy levels, cultural practices, and communication needs. CLAS standards help all Rhode Islanders receive effective, equitable, high-quality care. Learn more about the history of CLAS.

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provides CLAS implementation training, resources, and support to RIDOH programs, agencies, and community partners across the state. To request CLAS training services, please complete this form.

CLAS Standards-Related Laws

Organizations are responsible for ensuring compliance with applicable laws related to CLAS Standards.

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.
  • Must post multilingual notices for, at minimum, the top three most commonly spoken languages besides English.
  • Should not consider the use of interpreter services as receiving a benefit under any laws restricting assistance based on immigrant status.

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. 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.

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.
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

National CLAS Standards-Related Complaints

Submit a Complaint

If you need assistance sharing your feedback, submitting a confidential complaint, or have any questions, please email RIDOH.CLAS@Health.RI.Gov or call the RIDOH Health Information Line at 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711.

RIDOH is committed to improving National CLAS Standards compliance in Rhode Island and welcomes all feedback about CLAS activities and service delivery, including violation complaints related to language assistance services, uncertified interpreters, or charges and fees for language assistance.

You can also reach out to the following agencies.

Rhode Island Attorney General, Office of Civil Rights (OCR)

US Department of Health and Human Services (OCR)

US Department of Justice-Civil Rights Division

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.

For more free, educational CLAS resources, please visit