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.
A Limited English Proficiency (LEP) individual can be defined as a person who does not speak English as their primary language and has a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English. These individuals may be entitled language assistance with respect to a particular type or service, benefit, or encounter.
Recipients and federal agencies are required to take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to their programs and activities by LEP persons. While designed to be a flexible and fact-dependent standard, the starting point is an individualized assessment that balances the following four factors:
- The number or proportion of LEP persons eligible to be served or likely to be encountered by the program or grantee;
- The frequency with which LEP individuals come in contact with the program;
- The nature and importance of the program, activity, or service provided by the program to people's lives; and
- 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.
Presidential Executive Order 13166 - Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency (August 2000)