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These individuals may be entitled to language assistance with respect to a particular type of service, benefit, or encounter.
On August 11, 2000, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13166 entitled "Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency."
Executive Order 13166 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.
Executive Order 13166 also requires that the federal agencies work to ensure that recipients of federal funds provide meaningful access to their LEP customers.
Vital documents include, but are not limited to:• Consent and complaint forms.• Intake forms with the potential for important consequences.• Written notices of eligibility criteria, rights, denial, loss, or decreases in benefits orservices, actions affecting parental custody or child support, and other hearings.• Notices advising LEP individuals of free language assistance.• Written tests that do not assess English language competency, but testcompetency for a particular license, job, or skill for which knowing English is notrequired.• Applications to participate in a recipient's program or activity• Applications to receive benefits or services.• Business cards or short descriptions of department or service.
Non-vital written materials could include:• Third party documents, forms, or pamphlets distributed by a recipient as a publicservice.• For a non-governmental recipient, government documents and forms.• Large documents such as enrollment handbooks (although vital informationcontained in large documents may need to be translated).• General information about the program intended for informational purposes only.
Federal funds include grants, training, use of equipment, donations of surplus property, and other assistance.
A list of the types of recipients and the agencies funding them can be found at Executive Order 12250.
1) The number or proportion of LEP persons eligible to be served or likely to be encountered by the program or grantee;
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 or agency, and costs. As indicated above, the intent of this guidance is to find a balance that ensures meaningful access by LEP persons to critical services while not imposing undue burdens on small business, or small nonprofits.
Example: DOJ provides assistance to a state corrections department to improve a particular prison facility. All of the operations of the entire state department of corrections and not just the particular prison are covered.
The Coordination and Review Section (COR) of the Civil Rights Division of DOJ has taken the lead in coordinating and implementing Executive Order 13166.
One of the primary ways that bilingual staff can be used as part of a broader effort to ensure meaningful access is to have them conduct business with the agencies’ LEP clients directly in the clients’ primary language. For instance, 911 call centers and a variety of hotlines frequently employ bilingual operators who can communicate directly with LEP callers in a particular language.
Social service workers, police, corrections, and probation officers, and others frequently are also called upon to communicate directly with the public in languages other than English. This is sometimes called “monolingual communication in a language other than English.” It does not involve interpretation or the translation between languages. However, it does require fluency in the non-English language, including fluency in agency terminology. Such fluency should be assessed prior to relying on the bilingual employee for the provision of services.
Many individuals have some proficiency in more than one language, but are not completely bilingual. They may be able to greet a limited English proficient individual in his or her language, but not conduct agency business, for instance, in that language. The distinction is critical in order to ensure meaningful communication and appropriate allocation of resources. As valuable as bilingualism and ability to conduct monolingual communication in a language other than English can be, interpretation and translation require additional specific skills in addition to being fully fluent in two or more languages.