Limited English Proficiency


Access to Persons with Limited English Proficiency

Executive Order 13166, signed on August 11, 2000., requires each Federal agency to examine the services it provides for Persons with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).  Agencies must develop and implement a system by which people who have limited English proficiency can meaningfully access those services consistent with, and without unduly burdening, the fundamental mission of the agency. It also calls on Federal agencies to work to ensure that recipients of Federal financial assistance provide meaningful access to their LEP applicants and beneficiaries.


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" (2002 LEP Guidance). 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.


Additional information about the Federal Government's efforts to provide meaningful access to persons with limited English proficiency can be found on the website, a project of the Interagency Working Group on Limited English Proficiency.


LEP and Title VI Videos


Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.  National origin discrimination includes, among other things, failing to provide meaningful access to individuals who are limited English proficient (LEP).  Executive Order 13166 requires federal agencies that provide federal financial assistance to develop guidance to clarify the language access obligations of recipients of such assistance.


The videos listed below explain the Title VI obligations of recipients of federal financial assistance and federal agencies pursuant to Executive Order 13166.


Breaking Down the Barriers: Translating Limited English Proficiency Policy into Practice, Department of Justice, Online Video, (English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean)


Understanding and Abiding by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Department of Justice, Online Video


Overcoming Language Barriers, Department of Justice, [Video Available by Email Request], Overcoming Language Barriers Video Resources (PDF Version)


Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Implications for Persons who are Limited English Proficient , Training for Grantees of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights, You Tube Video

Office of Civil Rights (OCR)
U.S. Department of Commerce

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Page last updated March 28, 2015