Limited English Proficiency Resources
16-03 LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY (LEP)
A. Executive Order 13166
On August 11, 2000, Executive Order 13166 “Improving Access to Services for Persons With Limited English Proficiency” and was signed by President Clinton. This executive order directs all Federal agencies to examine the services being provided, identify any need for services, and develop and implement plans by which limited English proficient (LEP) persons can meaningfully access those services. The plans are to provide meaningful access by the LEP person and be consistent with, without unduly burdening, the fundamental mission of the agency. This directive is based upon Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d, et seq., as amended which prohibits discrimination against anyone based on national origin. Additionally, each agency providing Federal financial assistance is directed to draft Title IV guidance to ensure the recipients of their funding provide meaningful access to those LEP persons using their services.
Executive Order 41455
Additional guidance was provided to Federal agencies providing Federal funding to recipients with the publication of enforcement guidelines in 2002.
This document, "Enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - National Origin Discrimination Against Persons With Limited English Proficiency" can be reviewed at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2002-06-18/pdf/02-15207.pdf
It presents compliance standards on how to ensure that recipients of Federal funding are providing meaningful access of LEP persons to their programs and services.
In following these standards, recipients can avoid discriminating against LEP persons on the basis of national origin in violation of Title VI's prohibition against national origin discrimination referenced in Section 601 of Title IV, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d-4a:
“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.”
in which the Supreme Court interpreted these provisions as requiring that a federal
financial recipient take steps to ensure that language barriers do not exclude LEP
persons from effective participation in benefits and services, specifically, an
education provided solely in English.
B. LEP Fundamentals
a. LEP Definition
Individuals who do not speak English as their primary language and who have limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English can be limited English proficient, or “LEP”.
b. Determining the Extent of Obligation to Provide LEP Services
Recipients are required to take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to their programs and services by LEP persons, while. These four factors should be balanced against one another when preparing a plan.
i. Number / Proportion of Eligible LEP Persons - Determine the languages of persons served by this agency or within the locality / geographic area. The greater the population the more likely interpreter services will be required. A review of census information or existing information on interpreter services requested to date may be helpful in making an initial determination.
ii. Frequency of Contact with the Program – An uncommon LEP language person may still be frequently encountered. (e.g. major highways through a community, presence of certain service industries, etc.) and more likely to require enhanced interpreter services. Any plan should take in account local or regional conditions and have some flexibility.
iii. Nature and Importance of Service or Program – Services or programs where denial or delay to access of LEP services has life or death implications, or where an activity is compulsory, (e.g. correctional facilities or medical service) require more comprehensive LEP services where services or programs not crucial to day-to-day existence (e.g. a federally assisted zoo or theatre) would require less extensive solutions.
iv. Available Resources – “Reasonable steps” may cease to be reasonable where the costs imposed substantially exceed the benefits. If claiming limited resources as a basis of lack of provision, a recipient would need to demonstrate infrequent contact, the provision of language service as costly (e.g. unduly burdensome) and the program as not crucial to a LEP person’s day-to-day existence. Substantiating documentation would be required.
c. Determining What Interpreter Services Should be Provided
Recipients have two ways of providing language services, oral and written. While the correct mix should be based upon both what is necessary and reasonable in the light of the four factor analysis, the recipient has substantial flexibility in determining the appropriate mix.
i. Oral Interpretation - The act of listening to something in one language (source language) and orally translating it in another language (target language
General Characteristics of Competent Interpreter Services
· Demonstrate proficiency in and ability to communicate information accurately in both English and in the other language with high quality and accuracy, especially where individual rights or a person’s physical health is concerned.
· Demonstrate ability to identity and employ the appropriate mode of interpreting; such consecutive, simultaneous, summarization, or sight translation.
· Demonstrate knowledge in both languages of the specialized terms and concepts peculiar to that entity. (e.g. legal terminology)
· Demonstrate the knowledge of and ability to follow confidentiality and impartiality rules to extent this position requires
· Understanding of their role as interpreter and not deviate to the role of counselor, legal advisor, etc.
· Demonstrate ability to provide service consistently in a timely manner.
· Hiring Staff Interpreters
· Contracting Interpreters from Outside Agencies
· Hiring bilingual staff
· Using Telephone interpreter lines
· Using community volunteers
NOTE: An LEP person family members could be used in situations that are procedural in nature, not reasonably foreseeable, do not present a conflict of interest or where purchasing an interpreter is cost prohibitive for the LEP person and they desire the family member to perform the service. This is a less desirable option than any of the above.
ii. Written Translation - The replacement of a written text from one language (source language) into an equivalent written text in a written language (target language).
A recipient need only translate vital documents. The definition of the word “vital” is a determination based on a mix of frequent use and consequences associated with not understanding. If a document is determined to be vital, the recipient may undertake the translation of those documents in their frequently encountered LEP languages. Such documents might include:
· Consent and complaint forms
· Intake forms, with the potential for various consequences
· Written notices of rights
· Court Orders, Judgments or Opinions
· Notices of failure to meet financial obligations
· Notices of free LEP language assistance available
· Written tests that assess a competency for a certain job or skill
· Applications for fee waiver
d. Documenting the Language Access Plan (LAP)
A documented language access plan should be developed to address the identified needs of the LEP population served and provide a framework for the provision of timely and reasonable language assistance. The Plan should include:
i. Identification of the LEP population(s) needing language assistance by applying the four pronged assessment.
ii. Identification of both Oral and Written components to be provided based on the perceived need of LEP persons accessing the program or service
iii. Identify available language assistance measures (e.g. interpreter on staff, language line access, availability of translated documents)
iv. Identify process by which the LAP will be reviewed and periodically updated.
v. Identify the manner in which notification of any policy or language change will be will be implemented and subsequently communicated to the public.
The written LAP, once completed should be used as a reference and training
resource for training all staff on the availability of LEP services. Staff should
i. How to obtain those services
ii. How to respond when presented with an LEP person
iii. Their obligations to provide meaningful access to services for LEP
persons both in-person and to LEP persons on the phone.
e. Notification to Public of Provision of LEP Services
Once the LAP is documented, it is important to notify the public that LEP services are being provided. These are some options to accomplishing that end.
i. Posting signs in LEP languages at entry points
ii. Statements on outreach documents
iii. Working with stakeholder community centers
iv. Providing an alternate language voicemail prompt in the most common LEP language
v. Notices in local papers
vi. Announcements on radio stations
vii. Presentations at religious centers or schools
C. Proposed Court Rules