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News Release

VLS Legal Clinic to Examine the Embedded Racism of Language Access Barriers

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt.

The South Royalton Legal Clinic (SRLC) at Vermont Law School (VLS) will explore the obstacles people of color who have limited English proficiency face in accessing human and health services and the legal system when it presents “The Embedded Racism of Language Access Barriers,” on March 25, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.  

The event, part of VLS’s Embedded Racism in the Law discussion series, is open to the public, and will be livestreamed at vermontlaw.edu/live.

“Language barriers to accessing basic human needs, civic participation, and the legal system exemplify the depths and harms of structural racism,” said Jill Rudge, staff attorney for SRLC’s Vermont Immigrant Assistance Project. “They compound the myriad other structural barriers that BIPOC and New American communities face to accessing basic human needs and to fair and equal treatment under the law. As Vermont works to make itself an increasingly safe and welcome space for these communities, it must confront its challenges with providing meaningful language access to processes, programs, and services.”

Without access to meaningful interpretation and translation, BIPOC and New American communities miss out on rights to housing and shelter programs, benefits and healthcare, education system supports, emergency services, and opportunities to be heard—even though these communities are more likely to experience conditions that make and keep people poor and at the frontlines of climate change and environmental injustice.

By hosting the event, the SRLC hopes to share language access needs, rights, and remedies, and illustrate how language access barriers are impacting communities of color in Vermont.

The discussion will be moderated by Sara Gaylon JD’21, a dean’s fellow and advanced clinician at the SRLC. Panelists will include: Ruthie Lazenby, clinical legal fellow at the Environmental Justice Clinic at VLS; Erika Johnson, staff attorney at the Housing Discrimination Law Project; Kristen Rengo, coordinator of interpretation and translation services at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants; and Jules Torti, chief of civil division and civil rights coordinator, at the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Vermont.

The next event in the Embedded Racism in the Law discussion series, “Labor Law, Immigration, and the Fight for Farmworkers' Rights,” will be held April 22. Visit vermontlaw.edu for details.