Department of Justice SealDepartment of Justice
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888

Justice Department Hosts Conference on Increasing Access to Services by Limited English Proficient Individuals

WASHINGTON The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, along with several other federal agencies, held a national conference today on providing services to individuals with limited English skills. Approximately 450 representatives from federal, state and local agencies, along with community organizations and interpreters and translators from around the country gathered today to promote and share ideas to ensure that limited English proficient (LEP) individuals have meaningful access to programs and activities as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Executive Order 13166.

The conference, held in Bethesda, Md., featured speakers from several federal agencies, including Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, who delivered the keynote address. The opening plenary sessions focused on LEP issues arising in the context of disaster preparedness, response and recovery. Later break-out sessions covered a broad range of LEP-related topics, including suggestions for developing and implementing language access laws, lessons learned from practical experience with an LEP plan, and ideas for partnerships between federal agencies and business associations.

A highlight of the conference was the issuance of a practical technical assistance document containing "Top Tips" for providing language access, based on a recent survey of federal agencies. In addition, in keeping with the theme of the morning plenary sessions concerning emergency response and recovery, Acting Assistant Attorney General Becker issued a letter describing the critical nature of language services and the many ways in which government agencies at all levels, non-profits, and others can work together to ensure that language is not a barrier in emergency situations. In that letter, she encourages feedback from the public as the Division develops an Emergency Tool that will provide guidance for ensuring language access in emergency response and recovery situations.

The Top Tips document and the letter from Acting Assistant Attorney General Becker are being placed on the language access Web site managed by the Civil Rights Division, Also on the Web site is a video, brochures, and various technical assistance documents and planning tools, developed with two other federal agencies .

To request a translation of this press release in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese or Korean, please contact: The Coordination and Review Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, (202) 307-2222 or (202) 307-2678 (TDD).