Why is this important

Understanding the linguistic environment within a community is essential for delivering accessible community services. Households with limited English proficiency often face barriers to accessing appropriate health care and suffer poorer health outcomes as a result.[i] San Francisco's Language Access Ordinance (LAO) requires all public-serving City Departments to inform all Limited English Proficient (LEP)* persons who seek services, in their native language, of their right to request interpretation or translation; to translate written materials and signs that provide important information about the Department's services or programs into the City's three most common non-English languages (Chinese, Filipino, and Spanish); and to provide access to staff that speak these languages.

How are we doing?

The American Community Survey (ACS) surveys residents on an annual basis; however, five years of aggregated data are necessary provide numbers at a census tract or neighborhood level. Here we are comparing data from the 2009-2013 and 2014-2018 ACS data sets. Between the two time periods, there was a significant decrease in the percent of residents that had limited English proficiency citywide, but not in the CMTL area. The percentage of residents 5 years and older that have LEP is significantly higher in the CMTL than citywide. The most common non-English languages spoken at home were Asian/Pacific Islander languages (including Chinese and Tagalog) and Spanish in both the CMTL boundary and citywide.

Dataset Source

American Community Survey, 2009-2013 & 2014-2018

* The term Limited English Proficiency (LEP) refers to any person age 5 and older who reported speaking English less than "very well" on the American Community Survey.


[i] Flores, Glenn, and Sandra C. Tomany-Korman. “The Language Spoken at Home and Disparities in Medical and Dental Health, Access to Care, and Use of Services in US Children.” Pediatrics 121, no. 6 (June 1, 2008): e1703–14. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-2906.