Limited English Proficiency
On August 11, 2000, the President signed Executive Order 13166, "Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency". The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to those with limited English proficiency (LEP), and develop and implement a system to provide those services so LEP persons can have meaningful access to them.
It is expected that agency plans will provide for such meaningful access consistent with, and without unduly burdening, the fundamental mission of the agency. The Executive Order also requires that the Federal agencies work to ensure that recipients of Federal financial assistance provide meaningful access to their LEP applicants and beneficiaries.
To assist Federal agencies in carrying out these responsibilities, the U.S. Department of Justice has issued a Policy Guidance Document, "Enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - National Origin Discrimination Against Persons With Limited English Proficiency". This LEP Guidance sets forth the compliance standards that recipients of Federal financial assistance must follow to ensure that their programs and activities normally provided in English are accessible to LEP persons and thus do not discriminate on the basis of national origin in violation of Title VI's prohibition against national origin discrimination.
The local agency is required to ensure programs and activities normally provided in English are accessible to LEP persons. Each local agency shall perform an annual assessment to determine if modifications are needed to their programs and activities to ensure meaningful access by LEP persons, culminating in the development of a language access plan. The local agency's assessment, sometimes referred to as a "four-factor" analysis, shall be based on the following factors:
1. The number or proportion of LEP persons eligible to be served or likely to be encountered.
2. The frequency of LEP contacts.
3. The nature and importance of the programs, services, or activities provided.
4. The resources available for LEP persons.
For example, publications or public notices shall be made available in languages understood by the affected population. Interpreters shall be made available for LEP persons and for the hearing impaired.
Language barriers may prohibit LEP persons from:
. Obtaining services and information related to transportation services, programs, and projects.
. Taking advantage of the transit system, which could affect their jobs and social opportunities.
. Understanding the benefits to which they are entitled when their home or business property is acquired through eminent domain.
Sample of Title VI LEP
- I Speak Cards (PDF)
- Highway Emergency Language Protocol (PDF)
- U.S. DOJ Know Your Rights Beneficiary Brochure
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