Limited English Proficiency
LEP
Thinking Outside the Box
in delivering services to all persons
regardless of race, color, or national origin

AFFIRMING LEP ACCESS & COMPLIANCE IN FEDERAL AND FEDERALLY ASSISTED PROGRAMS

LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY - LEP

The federal government and those receiving assistance from the federal government must take reasonable steps to ensure that LEP persons have meaningful access to the programs, services, and information those entities provide. This will require agencies to think "outside the box" for creative solutions to address the needs of this ever-growing population of individuals, for whom English is not their primary language.

Who is a Limited English Proficient Person?

Persons who do not speak English as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read, speak, write or understand English can be limited English proficient, or "LEP." These individuals may be entitled to language assistance with respect to a particular type of service, benefit, or encounter.

Who Must Comply and Who Can be Found in Violation?

All programs and operations of entities that receive assistance from the federal government (i.e. recipients), including:

All programs and operations of the federal government also must comply.

LEGAL AUTHORITY

Recipients

Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

"No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."
42 U.S.C. 2000d.

The United States Supreme Court in Lau v. Nichols (1974) stated that one type of national origin discrimination is discrimination based on a person's inability to speak, read, write, or understand English.

Recipients and Federal Government

Executive Order 13166

On August 2000, this Order "Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency" was issued and directed federal agencies to:

The Order covers all federal and federally assisted programs and activities.

OBLIGATIONS

FOUR-FACTOR ANALYSIS

Recipients of federal financial assistance have an obligation to reduce language barriers that can preclude meaningful access by LEP persons to important government services. (The federal government has the same obligations as a result of Executive Order 13166.) The starting point is an individualized assessment that balances the following four factors:

  1. The number or proportion of LEP persons eligible to be served or likely to be encountered by the program or grantee/recipient;
  2. The frequency with which LEP individuals come in contact with the program;
  3. The nature and importance of the program, activity, or service provided by the program to people's lives; and
  4. The resources available to the grantee/recipient and costs.

Elements of an Effective LEP Policy

Elements which may be helpful in designing an LEP policy or plan:

Language Assistance Services

 

INTERAGENCY WORKING GROUP ON LEP

Mission

To build awareness of the need and methods to ensure that limited English proficient (LEP) persons have meaningful access to important federal and federally assisted programs, and to ensure implementation of language access, requirements under Title VI, the Title VI regulations, and Executive Order 13166 in a consistent and effective manner across agencies.

Focus

FOR MORE INFORMATION


US. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Coordination and Review Section - NWB
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530

http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/cor/

Title VI Hotline:
1-888-TITLE-06 (1-888-848-5306) (Voice / TDD)