The work we do is centered around creating opportunities for those that do not otherwise have them. We work so the immigrants, multilingual, and Limited English Proficient (LEP) populations in our society can fully comprehend the information they receive from the organizations they acquire products and services from. 

An LEP individual is officially defined as an individual “who [does] not speak English as their primary language, and who [has] a limited ability to read, speak, write or understand English…” In many cases, LEP individuals are entitled to language assistance in their interactions with particular kinds of services, benefits, and experiences. 

LEP populations and communication

There are a wide variety of laws that govern communication to LEP populations, regardless of the organization doing the communication. 

Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin and has been expanded to include discrimination on the basis of English proficiency. Under Title VI, Limited English Proficient individuals must be provided with meaningful access to programs and all their services.

Executive Order 13166, which affects federal agencies, says that “people who are LEP should have meaningful access to federally conducted and federally funded programs and activities.” This Executive Order demands that Federal agencies examine the services they provide, identify any contact points with LEP populations in those services, and then develop/implement a system for LEP people to have substantial access to them. 

Limited English Proficient also includes those that have communication disabilities – visual, hearing, or speech impairments. For these people, the ADA and Section 504 require that services and programs in integrated settings must meet the needs of those with communication disabilities without discrimination on the basis of those disabilities.

LEP populations and meaningful access

All of the laws regarding communication with LEP individuals mention “meaningful access” without directly describing what that looks like. Meaningful access is based on a four-factor analysis from the U.S. Department of Justice:

  1. Demographics – the proportion of the population eligible for the service or likely to engage with the service
  2. Frequency of contact – how often individuals interact with the organization
  3. Nature – the importance of the program/service in peoples’ lives
  4. Availability of resources and costs – no excessive financial burdens will be placed on the organization

In its most basic form, providing meaningful access to LEP populations is simply making your benefits/products/services as accessible to Limited English Proficient individuals as they are to native English speakers. The most successful way of achieving this goal is to work with a trusted Language Service Provider who can translate, format, and localize your documents. We can help you reach more LEP individuals with your services through our high-quality, accurate translation services. To learn more, or to get started on your next translation project, call us at 530-750-2040, or request a free quote today. 

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