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Health Equity

CLAS Standards

Culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) are respectful of and responsive to the health beliefs, practices and needs of diverse patients.

The National CLAS Standards are a comprehensive set of 15 action steps that provide a blueprint for individuals and health and health care organizations to provide CLAS.

They can be found here: National CLAS Standards

Cultural Competency?

Cultural competence requires that organizations:

  • have a defined set of values and principles, and demonstrate behaviors, attitudes, policies and structures that enable them to work effectively cross-culturally.
  • have the capacity to (1) value diversity, (2) conduct self-assessment, (3) manage the dynamics of difference, (4) acquire and institutionalize cultural knowledge and (5) adapt to diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities they serve.
  • incorporate the above in all aspects of policy making, administration, practice, service delivery and systematically involve key constituency groups who have lived experiences and the communities in which they live. 

Cultural competence is a developmental process that evolves over an extended period. Both individuals and organizations are at various levels of awareness, knowledge and skills along the cultural competence continuum.

(Adapted from Cross et al., 1989)

Linguistic Competency

Linguistic competence refers to the ability of an organization and its staff to communicate efficiently, conveying information in a manner accessible to a broad range of individuals, including those with limited English proficiency, low literacy skills, or non-literacy, as well as individuals with disabilities, and those who are deaf or hard of hearing, is termed linguistic competence.

Linguistic competence necessitates that organizations and providers possess the capacity to effectively address the health and mental health literacy needs of the populations they serve. To support this capability, the organization must establish policies, structures, practices, procedures, and allocate dedicated resources.

(Adapted from Goode & Jones, 2009, National Center for Cultural Competence, Georgetown University Center for Child & Human Development.)

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