1. Understanding and Implementing the CLAS Standards
Key CLAS-related Terminology
In almost any discussion of how to plan for, implement, maintain, and assess culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS), a number of key words and phrases will occur. Understanding the core definitions of these terms offers a valuable platform on which to build an understanding why CLAS is so vital to providing effective healthcare to every patient and consumer. The definitions that follow are some of the most important, although this list is by no means complete.
Accessibility: A site, facility, workplace, service, or program’s capacity to allow persons with some form of disability to approach, enter, operate, participate in, or use safely and with dignity
Acculturation: Cultural change of an individual, group, or people by adapting to or borrowing traits from another culture; a merging of cultures resulting from prolonged contact.
Ageism: Stereotyping of and discriminating against individuals or groups because of their age
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Law that became effective in July 1990 and was amended in January 2009.The ADA prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability. The ADA defines disability as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity." Whether a particular condition is considered a disability is determined on a case-by-case basis, with some specific conditions—such as current substance abuse and visual impairment that is correctable by prescription lenses—excluded as disabilities
Assimilation: The process of taking on the cultural traditions and practices of a particular people or group, which is typically a larger or more dominant group than their own
Bisexual: A person emotionally and/or sexually attracted to members of both sexes, although there may be a preference for one gender over another
CLAS standards: The collective set of culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) mandates, guidelines, and recommendations issued by the DHHS Office of Minority Health intended to inform, guide, and facilitate practices related to culturally and linguistically appropriate health services.
Community: Any set of persons that differs from other sets in a society due to demographic, economic, or social characteristics (eg, age, sex, education level, race, religion, income, lifestyle, beliefs, and so forth)
Culture: The ideas, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious, or social groups
Cultural competence: Having the capacity to function effectively as an individual and an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by consumers and their communities
Cultural and linguistic competence: “Cultural and linguistic competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations. ‘Culture’ refers to integrated patterns of human behavior that include the language, thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious, or social groups. ‘Competence’ implies having the capacity to function effectively as an individual and an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by consumers and their communities.” (Based on Cross, T, Bazron, B, Dennis, K, Isaacs, M. Towards a Culturally Competent System of Care Volume I. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Child Development Center, CASSP Technical Assistance Center; 1989).
Culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS): Services that are respectful of and responsive to cultural and linguistic needs
Cultural and linguistic competence: a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations
Cultural sensitivity: Ability to respond appropriately to the attitudes, feelings, or circumstances of groups of people who share a common, distinctive racial, national, religious, linguistic, or cultural heritage
Terminology is continued on the next page