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Federal Coordination and Compliance Section

[Federal Register: January 17, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 11)]
[Notices]
[Page 4595-4605]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr17ja01-141]


[[Page 4595]]

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Part XIII





Department of Labor





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Office of the Secretary



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Civil Rights Center; Enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of
1964; Policy Guidance on the Prohibition Against National Origin
Discrimination as it Affects Persons With Limited English Proficiency;
Notice


[[Page 4596]]


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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Office of the Secretary


Civil Rights Center; Enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964; Policy Guidance on the Prohibition Against National Origin
Discrimination As It Affects Persons With Limited English Proficiency

AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, Labor.

ACTION: Notice of policy guidance with request for comment.

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SUMMARY: The United States Department of Labor (DOL) is publishing
policy guidance on Title VI's prohibition against national origin
discrimination as it affects limited English proficient persons.

DATES: This guidance is effective immediately. Comments must be
submitted on or before March 19, 2001. DOL will review all comments and
will determine what modifications to the policy guidance, if any, are
necessary.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons should submit written comments to Ms.
Annabelle T. Lockhart, Director, Civil Rights Center, U.S. Department
of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW., Room N-4123, Washington, DC
20210; Comments may also be submitted by e-mail at: lockhart-
annabelle@dol.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Annabelle Lockhart or Naomi Barry at
the Civil Rights Center, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution
Ave., NW., Room N-4123, Washington, DC 20210. Telephone 202-219-7026;
TDD: 202-693-6516. Arrangements to receive the policy guidance in an
alternative format may be made by contacting the named individuals.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. 2000d, et seq. and its implementing regulations provide that no
person shall be subjected to discrimination on the basis of race,
color, or national origin under any program or activity that receives
federal financial assistance.
The purpose of this policy guidance is to clarify the
responsibilities of recipients of federal financial assistance
(``recipients'') from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and assist
them in fulfilling their responsibilities to limited English proficient
(LEP) persons, pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and
implementing regulations. The policy guidance reiterates DOL's
longstanding position that in order to avoid discrimination against LEP
persons on the grounds of national origin, recipients must take
reasonable steps to ensure that such persons receive the language
assistance necessary to afford them meaningful access to the programs,
services, and information those recipients provide, free of charge. The
text of the complete guidance document appears below.

Signed at Washington, D.C. this 11th of January 2001.
Alexis M. Herman,
Secretary of Labor.

Equal Opportunity Guidance Memorandum

January 3, 2001.
To: Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance from the United States
Department of Labor
From: Annabelle T. Lockhart, Director, Civil Rights Center, Department
of Labor
Subject: Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination As It
Affects Persons With Limited English Proficiency

Purpose

Pursuant to Executive Order 13166, entitled ``Improving Access to
Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency,'' issued by
President Clinton on August 11, 2000, the U.S. Department of Labor's
Civil Rights Center (``CRC'') issues this memorandum, which addresses
linguistic or language access, to offer guidance with respect to the
responsibilities of recipients of federal financial assistance
(``recipients'') from the Department of Labor (``DOL'') in serving
persons of limited English proficiency (``LEP''), pursuant to the
requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (``Title VI'')
and section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (``section
188''). This policy guidance does not create new obligations but,
rather, clarifies standards consistent with case law and well-
established legal principles developed under Title VI. The CRC provides
substantial technical assistance to recipients, and will continue to be
available to provide such assistance to any recipient seeking to ensure
that it operates an effective language assistance program.

Background

English is the predominant language of the United States. According
to the 1990 Census (the most recent data available), English is spoken
by 95 percent of U.S. residents. Of those U.S. residents who speak
languages other than English at home, the 1990 Census reports that 57
percent above the age of four speak English ``well to very well.''
The United States is also, however, home to millions of national
origin minority individuals who are ``limited English proficient,''
including immigrants, some children of immigrants born in the United
States, and other non-English speakers born in the United States,
including some Native Americans. National statistics on the LEP
population demonstrate that Spanish is the primary language for which
assistance may be needed. Many recipients of DOL financial assistance
have already implemented processes to improve services for Spanish
speakers. However, other nationally significant language groups exist,
including those that speak Chinese, French, Italian, German,
Vietnamese, Laotian, and Khmer (Cambodian). Moreover, depending on the
region of the country, countless other language groups may require
assistance to access meaningful government assistance. Because of
language differences and the inability to speak or understand English,
LEP persons are often excluded from programs and activities, experience
delays or denials of services, or receive assistance and services based
on inaccurate or incomplete information. Such exclusions, delays or
denials may constitute discrimination on the basis of national origin,
in violation of Title VI and section 188.
In the course of its enforcement activities, CRC has found that
persons who lack proficiency in English are unable to obtain basic
knowledge on how to access various benefits and services for which they
may be eligible, such as Unemployment Insurance, Job Corps, or other
DOL funded employment programs and activities. For example, many intake
interviewers and other front line employees who interact with LEP
individuals are neither bilingual nor trained in how to properly serve
LEP persons. As a result, LEP applicants are often either turned away,
forced to wait for substantial periods of time, forced to find their
own interpreter who is not often qualified to interpret, or forced to
make repeated visits to the recipient's program offices until
interpreters are available to provide assistance.
Some employment benefits, services, and job training providers have
sought to bridge the language gap by encouraging language minority
clients to provide their own interpreters as an alternative to the
recipient's use of qualified bilingual employees or interpreters.
Persons of limited English proficiency must sometimes rely on their
minor children to interpret for them during visits to an employment
services or job training facility. Alternatively, these clients may be
required to call upon neighbors or even

[[Page 4597]]

strangers they encounter at the recipients' program offices to act as
interpreters or translators.
These practices have severe drawbacks and may violate Title VI and
Section 188. In each case, the impediments to effective communication
and adequate service are formidable. The LEP client's untrained
``interpreter'' is often unable to understand the concepts or official
terminology s/he is being asked to interpret or translate. Even if the
interpreter possesses the necessary language and comprehension skills,
his or her mere presence may obstruct the flow of confidential
information to the recipient. This is because the LEP client would
naturally be reluctant to disclose or discuss intimate details of
personal and family life in front of his or her child or a complete
stranger who has no formal training or obligation to observe
confidentiality.
When these types of circumstances are encountered, the level and
quality of employment benefits, services, and job training available to
persons of limited English proficiency stand in stark conflict to Title
VI and section 188's promise of equal access to federally assisted
programs and activities. Services denied, delayed or provided under
adverse circumstances have serious consequences for a LEP person and
may constitute discrimination on the basis of national origin in
violation of Title VI and section 188. Accommodation of these language
differences through the provision of effective language assistance will
promote compliance with Title VI and section 188.
Although CRC's enforcement authority derives from Title VI and
section 188, the duty of recipients to ensure that LEP persons can
meaningfully access programs and services flows from a host of
additional sources, including federal and state laws and regulations.
In addition, the duty to provide appropriate language assistance to LEP
individuals is not limited to the employment benefits, services, and
job training context. Numerous federal laws require the provision of
language assistance to LEP individuals seeking to access critical
services and activities. For instance, the Voting Rights Act bans
English-only elections in certain circumstances and outlines specific
measures that must be taken to ensure that language minorities can
participate in elections. See 42 U.S.C. 1973 b(f)(1). Similarly, the
Food Stamp Act of 1977 requires states to provide translation and
interpretation assistance to LEP persons under certain circumstances.
See 42 U.S.C. 2020(e) (1) and (2). These and other provisions reflect
the sound judgment that providers of critical services and benefits
bear the responsibility for ensuring that LEP individuals can
meaningfully access their programs and services.
This policy guidance is consistent with the Department of Justice
(``DOJ'') LEP Guidance, which addresses the application of Title VI's
prohibition against national origin discrimination when information is
provided in English to LEP persons.\1\ It is also consistent with a
government-wide Title VI regulation issued by DOJ in 1976,
``Coordination of Enforcement of Nondiscrimination in Federally
Assisted Programs,'' 28 CFR part 42, subpart F, that addresses the
circumstances in which recipients must provide translation assistance
to LEP persons.\2\
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\1\ The DOJ LEP Guidance was issued August 11, 2000. (65 FR
50123, August 16, 2000.)
\2\ The DOJ coordination regulations at 28 CFR 42.405(d)(1)
provide that ``[w]here a significant number or proportion of the
population eligible to be served or likely to be directly affected
by a federally assisted program needs service or information in a
language other than English in order effectively to be informed of
or to participate in the program, the recipient shall take
reasonable steps, considering the scope of the program and the size
and concentration of such population, to provide information in
appropriate languages to such persons. This requirement applies with
regard to written materials of the type which is ordinarily
distributed to the public.''
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Legal Authority

Introduction

CRC has conducted investigations and reviews involving language
differences that impede the access of LEP persons to employment
benefits, services, and job training in programs and activities that
are financially assisted by DOL. Where the failure to accommodate
language differences discriminates on the basis of national origin, CRC
has required recipients to provide appropriate language assistance to
LEP persons. For instance, CRC has entered into voluntary compliance
agreements that require recipients who operate employment benefits,
services, and job training programs or activities to ensure that there
are bilingual employees or language interpreters to meet the needs of
LEP persons seeking services. CRC has also required these recipients to
provide written materials and post notices in languages other than
English. The legal authority for CRC's enforcement actions is Title VI
and Section 188, the implementing regulations, and a consistent body of
case law.

Statute and Regulations

Section 601 of Title VI, 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq. states: ``No
person in the United States shall on the grounds of race, color or
national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the
benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or
activity receiving federal financial assistance.''
Department of Labor Regulations implementing Title VI, provide in
part at 29 CFR 31.3 (b):

(1) A recipient under any program to which this part applies may
not, directly or through contractual or other arrangements, on the
grounds of race, color or national origin:
(i) Deny an individual any service, financial aid, or other
benefit provided under the program;
(ii) Provide any service, financial aid, or other benefit to an
individual which is different, or is provided in a different manner,
from that provided to others under the program * * *;
(2) A recipient, in determining the types of services, financial
aid or other benefits, or facilities that will be provided under any
such program, or the class of individuals to whom, or the situations
in which such services, financial aid or other benefits, or
facilities will be provided * * * may not directly, or through
contractual or other arrangements, utilize criteria or methods of
administration which have the effect of subjecting individuals to
discrimination, because of their race, color or national origin, or
have the effect of defeating or substantially impairing
accomplishment of the objectives of the program with respect to
individuals of a particular race, color or national origin (emphasis
added) * * *.

Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act adopts the same
prohibition against national origin discrimination that is found in
Title VI: ``No individual shall be excluded from participation in,
denied the benefits of, subjected to discrimination under, or denied
employment in the administration of or in connection with any such
program because of race, color, national origin, sex, religion,
disability, political affiliation or belief, citizenship, or age.''
Regulations implementing the nondiscrimination and equal
opportunity provisions of section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act
of 1998, speak specifically to national origin discrimination and
language access at 29 CFR 37.35:

(a) A significant number or proportion of the population
eligible to be served, or likely to be directly affected, by a WIA
Title I-financially assisted program or activity may need services
or information in a language other than English in order to be
effectively informed about, or able to participate in, the program
or activity. Where such a significant

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number or proportion exists, a recipient must take the following
actions:
(1) Consider:
(i) The scope of the program or activity; and
(ii) The size and concentration of the population that needs
services or information in a language other than English; and
(2) Based on those considerations, take reasonable steps to
provide services and information in appropriate languages. This
information must include the initial and continuing notice required
under Secs. 37.29 and 37.30, and all information that is
communicated under Sec. 37.34.
(b) In circumstances other than those describe in paragraph (a)
of this section, a recipient should nonetheless make reasonable
efforts to meet the particularized language needs of limited-English
speaking individuals who seek services or information from the
recipient.

Title VI and the Department of Labor regulations implementing Title
VI published at 29 CFR part 31 apply to any program or activity
receiving federal financial assistance from the Department of Labor.
Some programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance
from the Department of Labor are covered only under Title VI and the
Department of Labor's Title VI regulations (e.g., programs receiving
assistance through the Mine Safety and Health Act and the Occupational
Safety and Health Act).
Some programs and activities receiving Department of Labor
financial assistance, i.e., those that receive financial assistance
under Title I of WIA, are covered under both the DOL Title VI
regulations and the section 188 implementing regulations. The
regulation at 29 CFR 37.3 states that compliance with the regulations
in 29 CFR part 37 will satisfy obligations of the recipient to comply
with 29 CFR part 31.
The section 188 implementing regulations found in 29 CFR part 37
apply to any program or activity receiving financial assistance under
Title I of WIA. In addition, the section 188 implementing regulations
apply to programs and activities that are part of the One-Stop delivery
system and that are operated by One-Stop partners listed in section
121(b) of WIA, to the extent that the programs and activities are being
conducted as part of the One-Stop delivery system. Some One-Stop
programs and activities receive federal financial assistance from other
federal agencies (e.g., Department of Education and Department of
Housing and Urban Development). For purposes of the regulations in 29
CFR Part 37, however, ``One-Stop partners,'' as defined in section
121(b) of WIA, are treated as ``recipients,'' and are subject to the
nondiscrimination requirements to the extent that they participate in
the One-Stop delivery system. Some programs and activities that are
part of the One-Stop delivery system and that receive financial
assistance from a federal grantmaking agency other than the Department
of Labor are covered under the Section 188 implementing regulations,
but not under DOL's Title VI regulations. However, these programs and
activities are subject to the Title VI regulations of a federal
grantmaking agency other than the Department of Labor.
Although the regulatory language differs, the obligations of
recipients to ensure accessibility by LEP persons to DOL financially
assisted programs and activities are the same under Title VI and
section 188. Accordingly, the CRC will apply the same standards in
determining compliance with these obligations.
State and local laws may provide additional obligations to serve
LEP individuals, but such laws cannot compel recipients of federal
financial assistance to violate Title VI. For instance, given our
constitutional structure, state or local ``English-only'' laws do not
relieve an entity that receives federal funding from its
responsibilities under federal anti-discrimination laws. Entities in
states and localities with ``English-only'' laws are certainly not
required to accept federal funding--but if they do, they have to comply
with Title VI, including its prohibition against national origin
discrimination by recipients of federal assistance. Failing to make
federally assisted programs and activities accessible to individuals
who are LEP will, in certain circumstances, violate Title VI.

Case Law

Extensive case law affirms the obligation of recipients of Federal
financial assistance to ensure that LEP persons can meaningfully access
Federally-assisted programs and activities.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in Lau v. Nichols, 414 U.S. 563 (1974),
recognized that recipients of federal financial assistance have an
affirmative responsibility, pursuant to Title VI, to provide LEP
persons with meaningful opportunities to participate in public programs
and activities. In Lau v. Nichols, the Supreme Court ruled that a
public school system's failure to provide English language instruction
to students of Chinese ancestry who did not speak English denied the
students meaningful opportunities to participate in a public
educational program in violation of Title VI. In providing the same
services to the LEP students as it did for English proficient
students--an education provided solely in English--the Supreme Court
observed that ``it seems obvious that the Chinese-speaking minority
received fewer benefits than the English-speaking majority from
respondent's school system which denies them a meaningful opportunity
to participate in the educational program. * * *'' Courts have applied
the doctrine articulated in Lau both inside and outside the education
context, including in cases involving driver's license tests and
material relating to unemployment benefits.
As early as 1926, the Supreme Court recognized that language rules
were often discriminatory. In Yu Cong Eng et al. v. Trinidad, Collector
of Internal Revenue, 271 U.S. 500 (1926), the Supreme Court found that
a Philippine Bookkeeping Act that prohibited the keeping of accounts in
languages other than English, Spanish and Philippine dialects violated
the Philippine Bill of Rights that Congress had patterned after the
U.S. Constitution. The Court found that the Act deprived Chinese
merchants, who were unable to read, write or understand the required
languages, of liberty and property without due process.
In Gutierrez v. Municipal Court of S.E. Judicial District, 838 F.2d
1031,1039 (9th Cir. 1988), vacated as moot, 490 U.S. 1016 (1989), the
court recognized that requiring the use of English only is often used
to mask national origin discrimination. Citing McArthur, ``Worried
About Something Else,'' 60 Int'l J. Soc. Language, 87, 90-91 (1986),
the court stated that because language and accents are identifying
characteristics, rules that have a negative effect on bilingual
persons, individuals with accents, or non-English speakers may be mere
pretexts for intentional national origin discrimination.
Another case that noted the link between language and national
origin discrimination is Garcia v. Gloor, 618 F.2d 264 (5th Cir. 1980)
cert. denied, 449 U.S. 1113 (1981). The court found that on the facts
before it a workplace English-only rule did not discriminate on the
basis of national origin since the complaining employees were
bilingual. However, the court stated that ``to a person who speaks only
one tongue or to a person who has difficulty using another language
other than the one spoken in his home, language might well be an
immutable characteristic like skin color, sex or place of birth.'' Id.
At 269.

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Again, in the employment context, the Court in Pabon v. Levine, 70
FRD 674 (S.D.N.Y. 1976), found that the plaintiffs, who challenged the
state's failure to provide unemployment insurance information in
languages other than English, properly raised a claim under Title VI.
Most recently, the Eleventh Circuit in Sandoval v. Hagan, 197 F. 3d
484 (11th Cir. 1999), cert. granted sub. Nom., Alexander v. Sandoval,
147 L. Ed. 2d 1051 (U.S. Sept. 26, 2000) (No. 99-1908) (accepting case
to address whether or not there is a private right of action under
Title VI), held that the State of Alabama's policy of administering a
driver's license examination in English only was a facially neutral
practice that had an adverse effect on the basis of national origin, in
violation of Title VI. The court specifically noted the nexus between
language policies and potential discrimination based on national
origin. That is, in Sandoval, the vast majority of individuals who were
adversely affected by Alabama's English-only driver's license
examination policy were national origin minorities.
In the employment benefits, services, and job training context, a
recipient's failure to provide appropriate language assistance to LEP
individuals parallels many of the fact situations discussed in the
cases above and, as in those cases, may have an adverse effect on the
basis of national origin, in violation of Title VI.
The Title VI regulations prohibit both intentional discrimination
and policies and practices that appear neutral but have a
discriminatory effect. Thus, a recipient's policies or practices
regarding the provision of benefits and services to LEP persons need
not be intentional to be discriminatory, but may constitute a violation
of Title VI and section 188 if they have an adverse effect on the
ability of national origin minorities to meaningfully access programs
and services. Accordingly, it is useful for recipients to examine their
policies and practices to determine whether they adversely affect LEP
persons. This policy guidance provides a legal framework to assist
recipients in conducting such assessments.

Policy Guidance

Who Is Covered

All entities that receive federal financial assistance from the
Department of Labor, either directly or indirectly, through a grant,
contract or subcontract, are covered by this policy guidance. For
purposes of section 188, covered entities include, but are not limited
to: state-level agencies that administer, or are financed in whole or
in part with, WIA Title I funds; State Employment Security Agencies;
State and local Workforce Investment Boards; local Workforce Investment
Areas (``LWIA'') grant recipients; One-Stop operators; service
providers, including eligible training providers; On-the-Job Training
(OJT) employers; Job Corps contractors and center operators; Job Corps
national training contractors; outreach and admissions agencies,
including Job Corps contractors that perform these functions; and other
national program recipients.\3\ Entities may be receiving financial
assistance through one or more of a number of DOL administered
statutes, including, but not limited to, the Wagner-Peyser Act, the
Workforce Investment Act, Welfare-to-Work, the Older Americans Act, the
Social Security Act, the Mine Safety and Health Act, and the
Occupational Safety and Health Act.
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\3\ One-Stop participants that receive financial assistance from
a federal grantmaking agency other than the Department of Labor are
subject to the Title VI implementing regulations and guidance of
that grantmaking agency.
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The term federal financial assistance to which Title VI applies
includes, but is not limited to, grants and loans of federal funds,
grants or donations of federal property, details of federal personnel,
or any agreement, arrangement or other contract that has as one of its
purposes the provision of assistance (see, 45 CFR 80.13(f); Appendix A
to the Title VI regulations, and 29 CFR 37.4, for additional discussion
of what constitutes federal financial assistance).
Title VI prohibits discrimination in any program or activity that
receives federal financial assistance. What constitutes a program or
activity covered by Title VI was clarified by Congress in 1988, when
the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 (``CRRA'') was enacted. The
CRRA provides that, in most cases, when a recipient receives federal
financial assistance for a particular program or activity, all
operations of the recipient are covered by Title VI, not just the part
of the program or activity that uses the federal assistance. Thus, all
parts of the recipient's operations would be covered by Title VI, even
if the federal assistance is used only by one part. The definition of a
WIA Title I-funded program or activity can be found at 29 CFR 37.4.
Costs associated with providing meaningful access to LEP persons are
considered allowable administrative costs.

Basic Requirements Under Title VI and Section 188

A recipient whose policies, practices or procedures exclude, limit,
or have the effect of excluding or limiting, the participation of any
LEP person in a federally assisted program or activity on the basis of
national origin may be engaged in discrimination in violation of Title
VI and Section 188. In order to ensure compliance with Title VI and
section 188, recipients must take steps to ensure that LEP persons who
are eligible have meaningful access during all hours of operation to
the recipients' programs and services. The most important step in
meeting this obligation is for recipients of federal financial
assistance to provide the language assistance necessary to ensure such
access, at no cost to the LEP person.
On August 11, 2000, the President issued Executive Order 13166
titled ``Improving Access to Services by Persons With Limited English
Proficiency .'' 65 FR 50121 (August 16, 2000). On the same day, the
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights issued a Policy Guidance
Document titled ``Enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of
1964--National Origin Discrimination Against Persons With Limited
English Proficiency'' (hereinafter referred to as ``DOJ LEP
Guidance''), reprinted at 65 FR 50123 (August 16, 2000).
Executive Order 13166 requires Federal departments and agencies
extending financial assistance to develop and make available guidance
on how recipients should, consistent with the DOJ LEP Guidance and
Title VI of the Civil Rights of 1964, as amended, assess and address
the needs of otherwise eligible limited English proficient persons
seeking access to federally assisted programs and activities. The DOJ
LEP Guidance, in turn, provides general guidance on how recipients can
ensure compliance with their Title VI obligation to ``take reasonable
steps to ensure 'meaningful' access to the information and services
they provide.'' DOJ LEP Guidance, 65 FR at 50124. The DOJ LEP Guidance
goes on to provide that [w]hat constitutes reasonable steps to ensure
meaningful access will be contingent on a number of factors. Among the
factors to be considered are the size of the recipient; the size of the
eligible LEP population to serve; the nature of the program or service;
the objectives of the program or service; the total resources available
to the recipient; the frequency with which particular languages other
than English are encountered; and, the

[[Page 4600]]

frequency with which LEP persons come into contact with the program or
service. Of these factors, the following four are considered the most
pivotal to determining the nature of the language assistance provided
by a recipient: the number or proportion of LEP individuals eligible to
participate or likely to be directly or significantly affected by the
program or activity; the frequency of contact a participant or
beneficiary is required to have with the program or activity; the
nature and importance of the program or activity to the participant or
beneficiary; and, the resources available to the recipient in carrying
out the program or activity. These factors constitute what herein after
will be referred to as the elements of the ``four-factor analysis.''
This Guidance for DOL is consistent with the compliance standards set
out in the DOJ LEP Guidance.
The type of language assistance a recipient provides to ensure
meaningful access will depend on a variety of factors, Programs and
activities that serve a few or even one LEP person are still subject to
the Title VI and section 188 obligation to take reasonable steps to
provide meaningful opportunities for access. However, a factor in
determining the reasonableness of a recipient's efforts is the number
or proportion of people who will be excluded from the program or
activity absent efforts to remove language barriers. The steps that are
reasonable for a recipient who serves one LEP person a year will be
different than those expected from a recipient who serves several LEP
persons each day.
The importance of the recipient's program or activity to
participants or beneficiaries will affect the determination of what is
``reasonable.'' More affirmative steps must be taken in programs and
activities where the denial of access may have serious implications,
such as the receipt of Unemployment Insurance benefits. In assessing
the effect of denying access, recipients must consider the importance
of the benefit to individuals both immediately and in the long-term.
The resources available to a recipient of federal financial
assistance may have an impact on the nature of the steps that
recipients must take. For example, a small recipient with limited
resources may not have to take the same steps as a larger recipient to
provide LEP assistance in programs and activities that have a limited
number of eligible LEP individuals, where contact is infrequent, and/or
where the program or activity is not crucial to an individual's day-to-
day existence. Claims of limited resources, especially from larger
entities, will need to be well-substantiated.
Frequency of contacts between the program or activity and LEP
individuals is another factor to be considered. For example, if a LEP
individual must access a program or service on a daily basis, such as
activities provided in a job training program, a recipient has greater
duties than if program or activity contact is unpredictable or
infrequent. LEP individuals must be able to access and participate in
job training activities in a manner equally consistent and effective to
that offered to non-LEP persons.
There is no ``one size fits all'' solution for Title VI and section
188 compliance with respect to LEP persons. CRC will make its
assessment of the language assistance needed to ensure meaningful
access on a case by case basis, and a recipient will have considerable
flexibility in determining precisely how to fulfill this obligation.
CRC will focus on the end result--whether the recipient has taken the
necessary steps to ensure that LEP persons have meaningful access to
programs and services.
The key to providing meaningful access for LEP persons, including
LEP persons likely to be directly or significantly affected (e.g., LEP
parents of non-LEP students) is to ensure that the recipient and LEP
person can communicate effectively. The steps taken by a recipient must
ensure that the LEP person is given adequate information, is able to
understand the services and benefits available, and is able to receive
those for which he or she is eligible, free-of-charge. The recipient
must also ensure that the LEP person can effectively communicate the
relevant circumstances of his or her situation to the service provider.
Effective language assistance programs usually contain the four
elements described in the following section. In reviewing complaints
and conducting compliance reviews, CRC will consider a program or
activity to be in compliance when the recipient effectively
incorporates and implements these four elements. The failure to
incorporate or implement one or more of these elements does not
necessarily mean noncompliance with Title VI and Section 188, and CRC
will review the totality of the circumstances to determine whether LEP
persons can meaningfully access the services and benefits of the
recipient.

Ensuring Meaningful Access to LEP Persons

Introduction--The Four Keys to Title VI and Section 188 Compliance in
the LEP Context

The key to ensuring meaningful access to services and benefits for
LEP persons is to guarantee that the language assistance provided
results in accurate and effective communication between the recipient
and LEP applicant/client about the types of services and/or benefits
available and about the applicant's or client's circumstances. Although
DOL recipients have considerable flexibility in fulfilling this
obligation, effective programs usually consist of the following four
elements:
I. Assessment. The recipient conducts a thorough annual assessment
of the language needs of the population to be served;
II. Development and Implementation of a Written Policy on Language
Access. The recipient develops and implements a comprehensive written
policy that will ensure meaningful communication. This plan is amended
on an annual basis, as needed, depending on the local service
population;
III. Training of Staff. The recipient takes steps to ensure that
staff understands the policy and is capable of carrying it out; and
IV. Vigilant Monitoring. The recipient conducts regular oversight
of the language assistance program to ensure that LEP persons can
meaningfully access the program or activity.
The failure to implement one or more of these measures does not
necessarily mean noncompliance with Title VI and section 188, and CRC
will review the totality of the circumstances in each case. If
implementation of one or more of these options would be so financially
burdensome as to defeat the legitimate objectives of a recipient's
program or activity, and if there are equally effective alternatives
for ensuring that LEP persons have meaningful access to programs and
services, CRC will not find the recipient in noncompliance. However, in
reviewing recipients' compliance, the CRC will seek documentation and
evidence that the recipient considered and, when appropriate,
incorporated these elements into their language assistance programs.

I. Assessment

The first key to ensuring meaningful access is for the recipient to
assess the language needs of the affected population. A recipient
assesses language needs by:

[[Page 4601]]

Identifying the languages other than English that are
likely to be encountered in its program or activity and by estimating
the number of LEP persons that are eligible for services and/or
benefits and that are likely to be directly affected by its program or
activity. This can be done by reviewing data from a combination of
sources, including the census and state labor market information
systems, client utilization data from client files, and statistics from
school systems and community agencies and organizations. When a
recipient believes that the provision of aid, services, benefits, or
training to LEP persons has not been effective in the past, the primary
source of data from which estimates of the eligible LEP population is
made should not stem from client utilization data from client files;
Determining the language needs of LEP clients, keeping in
mind that some LEP individuals will not self-identify as LEP out of
fear that their level of participation will be curtailed by their
inability to communicate in the English language;
Recording LEP status in clients' files to ensure that LEP
individuals are consistently communicated with in the appropriate
language as they navigate all stages of the recipient's program;
Locating the points of contact of all stages of the
program or activity where language assistance is likely to be needed;
Reviewing delivery systems to determine whether any
program system denies or limits participation by LEP individuals. For
example, many states have implemented telephone certification systems
for Unemployment Insurance programs. Telephone systems often only
provide instructions in English, or in some cases, Spanish. Some states
require UI applicants to request a waiver from participation in this
system even if they are LEP. Programs offering computer-based
technologies may encounter circumstances that similarly limit
meaningful participation;
Understanding circumstances in which, although the
participant and/or beneficiary can communicate effectively in English,
assistance may be needed when interacting with other pertinent
individuals. For example, if a student under the age of eighteen needs
his/her parents' signature to participate in a summer employment
program, both written and oral language assistance may be necessary to
provide information and obtain the necessary permission;
Assessing the resources that will be needed to provide
effective language assistance and the location and availability of
these resources; and,

II. Development and Implementation of a Written Policy on Language
Access

All recipients are required to ensure effective communication by
developing and implementing a comprehensive written language assistance
program that includes policies and procedures for identifying and
assessing the language needs of its LEP applicants/clients and that
provides for a range of interpreter assistance, notification to LEP
persons in appropriate languages of the right to free language
assistance, periodic training of staff, monitoring of the program, and
translation of written materials in certain circumstances.\4\ Certain
recipients of DOL financial assistance are required, per 29 CFR 37.54,
to establish and adhere to a Methods of Administration (``MOA''). Per
the regulations, MOAs must be in writing, reviewed and updated every
two years as required by Section 37.55, and, at a minimum, describe how
the state programs and recipients have satisfied the requirements of
regulations, including those found at Sections 37.35 and 37.42 (Section
37.35 can be found on pages 5-6 of this document).
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\4\ Both the Americans with Disabilities Act and section 504 of
the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibit discrimination on the basis
of disability and require entities to provide language assistance
such as sign language interpreters for hearing impaired individuals
or alternative formats such as braille, large print or tape for
vision impaired individuals. In developing a comprehensive language
assistance program, recipients should be mindful of their
responsibilities under the ADA and section 504 to ensure access to
programs and activities for persons with disabilities.
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Oral Language Interpretation
In designing an effective language assistance program, a recipient
should develop procedures for obtaining and providing trained and
competent interpreters and other interpretation services, in a timely
manner, by taking some or all of the following steps:
Hiring bilingual staff who are trained and competent in
the skill of interpreting;
Hiring staff interpreters who are trained and competent in
the skill of interpreting;
Contracting with an outside interpreter service for
qualified interpreters;
Arranging formally for the services of volunteers who are
qualified interpreters;
Arranging/contracting for the use of a telephone language
interpreter service.
The following provides guidance to recipients in determining which
language assistance options will be of sufficient quantity and quality
to meet the needs of their LEP beneficiaries:
Bilingual Staff: Hiring bilingual staff for applicant and client
contact positions facilitates participation by LEP persons. The ability
of staff members to communicate directly with LEP clients, without
third-party interpretation and translation assistance, maximizes agency
resources and permits LEP clients to more fully engage in programs and
services. However, where there are a variety of LEP language groups in
a recipient's service area, this option may be insufficient to meet the
needs of all LEP applicants and clients. Where this option is
insufficient to meet the needs, the recipient must provide additional
and timely language assistance. The qualifications of both current and
future bilingual staff must be reviewed to ensure demonstrated
proficiency in English and the second language, orientation and
training on the skills and ethics of interpretation, and fundamental
knowledge in both languages of any specialized terms or concepts.
Staff Interpreters: Paid staff interpreters are especially
appropriate where there is a frequent and/or regular need for
interpreting services. The qualifications of both current and future
staff interpreters must be reviewed to ensure demonstrated proficiency
in English and the second language, orientation and training on the
skills and ethics of interpretation, and fundamental knowledge in both
languages of any specialized terms or concepts. Staff interpreters must
be readily available.
Contract Interpreters: The use of contract interpreters may be an
option for recipients that have infrequent needs for interpreting
services, have less common LEP language groups in their service areas,
or need to supplement their in-house capabilities on an as-needed
basis. Where non-staff interpreters are used, appropriate training must
be provided. Training should include orientation and training on the
skills and ethics of interpretation and fundamental knowledge in both
languages of any specialized terms or concepts. Contract interpreters
must also be readily available.
Community Volunteers: Use of community volunteers may provide
recipients with a cost-effective method for providing interpreter
services. However, experience has shown that to use community
volunteers effectively, recipients must ensure that formal arrangements
for interpreting services are made with community organizations so that
these organizations are not

[[Page 4602]]

subjected to ad hoc requests for assistance. In addition, recipients
must ensure that these volunteers are qualified to interpret and
understand their obligation to maintain client confidentiality. Where
community volunteers are used, appropriate training must be provided.
Training should include orientation and training on the skills and
ethics of interpretation and fundamental knowledge in both languages of
any specialized terms or concepts. Additional language assistance must
be provided where competent volunteers are not readily available during
all hours of service.
Telephone Interpreter Lines: A telephone interpreter service line
may be a useful option as a supplemental system, or may be useful when
a recipient encounters a language that it cannot otherwise accommodate.
Such a service often offers interpreting assistance in many different
languages and usually can provide the service in quick response to a
request. However, recipients should be aware that such services may not
always have readily available interpreters who are familiar with the
terminology peculiar to the particular program or service. This method
may also be inadequate if and when documents need to be reviewed. It is
important that a recipient not offer this as the only language
assistance option except where other language assistance options are
unavailable.
Three recurring issues in the area of interpreter services involve
(a) the use of friends, family, or minor children as interpreters; (b)
the level of language ability; and, (c) the need to ensure that
interpreters are qualified.
(a) Use of Friends, Family, or Minor Children as Interpreters: A
recipient may expose itself to liability under Title VI and section 188
if it requires, suggests, or encourages a LEP person to use friends,
family members, or minor children, as interpreters, as this could
compromise the effectiveness of the service. Use of such persons could
result in a breach of confidentiality or reluctance on the part of
individuals to reveal personal information critical to their
situations. In addition, family and friends usually are not competent
to act as interpreters, since they are often insufficiently proficient
in both languages, unskilled in interpretation, and unfamiliar with
specialized terminology.
If after a recipient informs a LEP person of the right to free
interpreter services, the person declines such services and requests
the use of a family member or friend, the recipient may use the family
member or friend, if the use of such a person would not compromise the
effectiveness of services or violate the LEP person's confidentiality.
The recipient should make efforts to document the offer and declination
in the LEP person's file. Even if a LEP person elects to use a family
member or friend, the recipient should suggest that a trained
interpreter sit in on the encounter to ensure accurate interpretation.
(b) Level of Language Ability: As with English speakers, the
ability of LEP individuals to read and comprehend written materials
even in their native languages will vary. If persons are illiterate
even in their native languages, oral interpretation of written
materials may be necessary. As a general rule, interpreters should be
aware of variances within a language, i.e. different words are used
throughout the Spanish-speaking world to describe the same thing.
Interpreters should be able to communicate with LEP individuals
utilizing the appropriate colloquial speech.
(c) Qualified Interpreters: In order to provide effective services
to LEP persons, a recipient must ensure that it uses persons who are
qualified to provide interpreter services. Being qualified does not
necessarily mean formal certification as an interpreter, though
certification is helpful. On the other hand, being qualified requires
more than self-identification as bilingual. The requirement to be
qualified contemplates:
Demonstrated proficiency in both English and the other
language;
Orientation and training that includes the skills and
ethics of interpreting (e.g., issues of confidentiality);
Fundamental knowledge in both languages of any specialized
terms or concepts peculiar to the recipient's program or activity;
Sensitivity to the LEP person's culture; and,
A demonstrated ability to convey information in both
languages, accurately.
A recipient must ensure that those persons it provides as
interpreters are trained and qualified to act in this role.
Translation of Written Materials
An effective language assistance program ensures that written
materials that are routinely provided in English to applicants, clients
and the public are available in regularly encountered languages other
than English. It is particularly important to ensure that vital
documents, such as applications; consent forms; letters containing
important information regarding participation in a program or activity;
notices pertaining to the reduction, denial or termination of services
or benefits and of the right to appeal such actions; notices that
require a response from beneficiaries; information on the right to file
complaints of discrimination; notices advising LEP persons of the
availability of free language assistance; and, other outreach materials
be translated into the languages other than English of each regularly
encountered LEP group eligible to be served or likely to be directly or
significantly affected by the recipient's program or activity.\5\
Further, in some instances, translation of written materials is
required as a reasonable step to ensure that LEP persons are
effectively informed about, or able to participate in, a DOL
financially assisted program or activity.
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\5\ The requirements outlined in this guidance memorandum also
apply to materials posted on web sites. However, the placement of
materials on a web site need not change the recipients' original
assessment regarding the number or proportion of LEP persons that
comprise the intended audience for that document. The four-factor
analysis applies to each individual ``document'' on a web site.
Generally, entire web sites need not be translated; usually only the
vital documents or vital information posted would require
translation. If, in applying the four-factor analysis, the recipient
determines that a particular document or piece of information should
be translated, then, provided that the English version can be found
on the web site, translations into appropriate languages other than
English should also be posted. If documents are translated on a web
site, the web site homepage should direct browsers to such
information.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

The CRC acknowledges the concern that translating documents may
delay communication between the program or activity and the LEP client.
It is expected that all vital documents, or all portions of documents
that utilize ``vital'' language, be translated in preparation for
assisting persons in language groups that are significantly represented
in the service delivery area. Translation of non-vital language must
occur on a timely basis so as not to delay the participation in and/or
receipt of benefits to LEP clients.
As part of its overall language assistance program, a recipient
should assess annually its local service population and develop and
implement a plan to provide written materials in languages other than
English where a significant number or percentage of the population
eligible to be served or likely to be directly or significantly
affected by the program or activity needs services or information in a
language other than English to communicate effectively.
One way for a recipient to know with greater certainty that it will
be found in compliance with its obligation to provide written
translations in languages other than English is for the

[[Page 4603]]

recipient to meet the guidelines outlined in paragraphs (A), (B) and
(C) below.
Paragraphs (A) and (B) outline the circumstances that provide a
``safe harbor'' for recipients. A recipient that provides written
translations under these circumstances will most likely be found in
compliance with its obligation under Title VI and section 188 regarding
written translations.\6\ However, the failure to provide written
translations under circumstances outlined in paragraphs (A), (B) and
(C) will not necessarily mean noncompliance with Title VI and section
188.
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\6\ The ``safe harbor'' provisions are not intended to establish
numerical thresholds for when a recipient must translate documents.
Because the numbers and percentages included in these provisions are
based on the balancing of a number of factors, the Civil Rights
Center will undertake additional assessment of the numerical
thresholds, which may be revised as a result.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

In such circumstances, CRC will review the totality of the
circumstances to determine the precise nature of a recipient's
obligation to provide written materials in languages other than
English. If written translation of a certain document or set of
documents would be so financially burdensome as to defeat the
legitimate objectives of its program or activity, and if there is an
alternative means of ensuring that LEP persons have meaningful access
to the information provided in the document (such as timely, effective
oral interpretation of vital documents), CRC will not find the
translation of written materials necessary for compliance with Title VI
and section 188.
CRC will consider a recipient to be in compliance with the Title VI
and section 188 obligation to provide written materials in languages
other than English if: \7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

\7\ The Civil Rights Center will undertake additional assessment
of the numerical thresholds, which may be revised as a result.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

(A) The recipient provides translated written materials for each
LEP language group that constitutes ten percent or 3,000, whichever is
less, of the population of persons eligible to be served or likely to
be directly or significantly affected by the recipient's program or
activity;
(B) Regarding LEP language groups that constitute five percent or
1,000, whichever is less, of the population of persons eligible to be
served or likely to be directly or significantly affected by the
recipient's program or activity, the recipient ensures that, at a
minimum, vital documents are translated into the appropriate languages
other than English of such LEP persons. Translation of other documents,
if needed, can be provided orally; and,
(C) Notwithstanding paragraphs (A) and (B) above, a recipient with
fewer than five percent or 1,000 persons in a language group eligible
to be served or likely to be directly or significantly affected by the
recipient's program or activity, need not translate written materials
but rather may provide written notice in the primary language of the
LEP language group of the right to receive competent oral
interpretation of written materials.
The term ``persons eligible to be served or likely to be directly
or significantly affected'' relates to the issue of what is the
recipient's service area for purposes of meeting the Title VI and
section 188 obligation. There is no ``one size fits all'' definition of
what constitutes ``persons eligible to be served or likely to be
directly or significantly affected.''
Ordinarily, persons eligible to be served or likely to be directly
or significantly affected by a recipient's program or activity are
those persons who are in the geographic area that has been approved by
a federal grant agency as the recipient's service area, and who are
either eligible for the recipient's services or benefits, or otherwise
might be directly or significantly affected by such a recipient's
conduct. CRC may also determine the service area to be the geographic
areas from which the recipient draws, or can be expected to draw,
clients. This, for example, could occur in a local workforce investment
area (LWIA) that manages more than a single One-Stop Center. Instead of
being guided by a population survey for the LWIA, each One-Stop Center
should assess its own local service population. States operating
programs, such as the Unemployment Insurance program, should assess
both statewide language groups that are represented significantly and
require all local offices to conduct surveys of local service
populations. Small entities, such as Vermont, Delaware, and the
District of Columbia, that operate only a single One-Stop Center,
should assess their overall populations and also be aware of
``pockets'' of LEP persons that may exist in certain areas (e.g., the
Chinatown or Adams Morgan (largely Spanish-speaking) areas of
Washington, D.C.).
As this guidance notes, Title VI and section 188 provide that no
person may be denied meaningful access to a recipient's services and
benefits, on the basis of national origin. To comply with Title VI and
section 188, a recipient must ensure that LEP persons have meaningful
access to and can understand information contained in program/activity-
related written documents. Thus, for language groups that do not fall
within paragraphs (A) and (B) above, a recipient can ensure such access
by, at a minimum, providing notice, in writing, in the LEP person's
primary language, of the right to receive free language assistance,
including the right to competent oral interpretation of written
materials, free of cost.
Recent technological advances have made it easier for recipients to
store translated documents readily. At the same time, CRC recognizes
that recipients in a number of areas, such as many large cities,
regularly serve populations of people in which dozens and sometimes
hundreds of different languages are spoken. It would be unduly
burdensome to demand that recipients in these circumstances translate
all written materials into all languages.
It is also important to ensure that the person translating the
materials is well-qualified. In addition, it is important to note that
in some circumstances verbatim translation of materials may not
accurately or appropriately convey the substance of what is contained
in the written materials. Moreover, written materials should be
translated to serve the average reading level of the LEP community to
be served. An effective way to address this potential problem is to
reach out to community-based organizations to review translated
materials to ensure that they are accurate and easily understood by LEP
persons.
The ``safe harbor'' provisions apply to the translation of written
documents only. They do not change the requirement to provide
meaningful access to LEP individuals through competent oral
interpreters.
Methods for Providing Notice to LEP Persons
A vital part of a well-functioning compliance program includes
having effective methods for notifying LEP persons of their rights to
receive or participate in the employment benefits, services, and job
training programs to which they may be eligible. Outreach materials
should notify LEP persons of their rights to language assistance and
the availability of such assistance free of charge. These methods
include but are not limited to:
Advertising and outreach to communicate the rights of
individuals to employment benefits, services, and job training programs
to which they may be eligible, which could include public service
announcements in appropriate languages on television or radio,
newspaper advertisements, or

[[Page 4604]]

distributing materials to organizations that serve LEP persons;
Use of language identification cards that allow LEP
beneficiaries to identify their language needs to staff and for staff
to identify the language needs of applicants and clients. To be
effective, the cards (e.g., ``I speak cards'') must invite the LEP
person to identify the language s/he speaks. This identification must
be recorded in the LEP person's file;
Posting and maintaining signs in regularly encountered
languages in waiting rooms, reception areas and other initial points of
entry. In order to be effective, these signs must inform LEP
applicants/clients of their right to free language assistance services
and invite them to identify themselves as persons needing such
services;
Translation of application forms and instructional,
informational and other written materials into appropriate languages
other than English by competent translators. Oral interpretation of
documents for persons who speak languages not regularly encountered.
Uniform procedures for timely and effective telephone
communication between staff and LEP persons. This must include
instructions for English-speaking employees to obtain assistance from
interpreters or bilingual staff when receiving calls from or initiating
calls to LEP persons.

III. Training of Staff

Another vital element in ensuring that its policies are followed is
a recipient's dissemination of its policy to all employees likely to
have contact with LEP persons and periodic training of these employees.
Effective training ensures that employees are knowledgeable and aware
of LEP policies and procedures; are trained to work effectively with
in-person and telephone interpreters; and, understand the dynamics of
interpretation between LEP clients, the recipient's staff and
interpreters. It is important that this training be part of the
orientation for new employees and that all employees in client contact
positions be properly trained. Given the high turnover rate among some
employees, recipients may find it useful to maintain a training
registry that records the names and dates of employees' training. Over
the years, CRC has observed that recipients often develop effective
language assistance policies and procedures but that employees are
unaware of the policies, or do not know how to, or otherwise fail to,
provide available assistance. Effective training is one means of
ensuring that there is not a gap between a recipient's written policies
and procedures, and that the actual practices of employees who are in
the front lines interacting with LEP persons are being followed.

IV. Monitoring

It is also crucial for a recipient to monitor its language
assistance program at least biennially to assess the current LEP makeup
of its service area, the current communication needs of LEP applicants
and clients, whether existing assistance is meeting the needs of such
persons, whether staff is knowledgeable about policies and procedures
and how to implement them, and whether sources of and arrangements for
assistance are still current and viable. One element of such an
assessment is for a recipient to seek feedback from clients and
advocates. Recipients should consider involving community groups in
their monitoring processes, which can aid in assessing local
demographics, as well as obtaining feedback on the effectiveness of
policies and practices to serve LEP individuals. CRC believes that
compliance with the Title VI and Section 188 language assistance
obligation is most likely when a recipient continuously monitors its
program, makes modifications where necessary, and periodically trains
employees in implementation of the policies and procedures.
CRC's Assessment of Meaningful Access
The failure to take all of the steps outlined will not necessarily
mean that a recipient has failed to provide meaningful access to LEP
clients. As noted above, CRC will make assessments on a case by case
basis and will consider several factors in assessing whether the steps
taken by a recipient provide meaningful access. Those factors include
the number or proportion of LEP individuals eligible to participate or
likely to be directly or significantly affected by the program or
activity; the frequency of contact a participant or beneficiary is
required to have with the program or activity; the nature and
importance of the program or activity to the participant or
beneficiary; and, the resources available to the recipient in carrying
out the program or activity.

Promising Practices

In meeting the needs of their LEP applicants and clients, some
recipients have found unique ways of providing translation and
interpretation services and reaching out to the LEP community. As part
of its technical assistance, CRC has frequently assisted, and will
continue to assist, recipients who are interested in learning about
promising practices in the area of service to LEP populations. Examples
of promising practices include the following:
Language Banks. In several parts of the country, both urban and
rural, community organizations have created community language banks
that train, hire and dispatch qualified interpreters, reducing the need
to have on-staff interpreters for low demand languages. These language
banks are frequently nonprofit and charge reasonable rates. This
approach is particularly appropriate where there is a scarcity of
language services, or where there is a large variety of language needs.
Language Support Office. An ``Office for Language Assistance
Services'' could be created to test and certify all in-house and
contract interpreters and to provide agency-wide support for
translation of forms, client mailings, publications and other written
materials into languages other than English.
Use of Technology. Some recipients use their internet and/or
intranet capabilities to store translated documents online. These
documents can be retrieved as needed. Translation software may also be
useful.
Telephone Information Lines. Recipients have established telephone
information lines in languages spoken by frequently encountered
language groups to instruct callers, in the languages other than
English, on how to leave a recorded message that will be answered by
someone who speaks the caller's language.
Signage and Other Outreach. Recipients could provide information
about services, benefits, eligibility requirements, and the
availability of free language assistance, in appropriate languages by
(a) posting signs and placards with this information in public places
such as grocery stores, bus shelters and subway stations; (b) putting
notices in newspapers and on radio and television stations that serve
LEP groups; (c) placing flyers and signs in the offices of community-
based organizations that serve large populations of LEP persons; and,
(d) establishing information lines in appropriate languages.

Model Plan

The following is an example of a model language assistance program
that is potentially useful for all recipients, but is particularly
appropriate for recipients that serve a significant and diverse LEP
population. This model plan incorporates a variety of options and
methods for providing meaningful access to LEP beneficiaries:

[[Page 4605]]

A formal written language assistance program, reviewed
annually;
Identification and biennial assessment of the languages
that are likely to be encountered and estimating the number of LEP
persons that are eligible for services and that are likely to be
affected by its program or activity through a review of census, client
utilization data and statistics from school systems, community agencies
and organizations;
Outreach to LEP communities, advertising program
eligibility and the availability of free language assistance;
Posting of signs in lobbies and in other waiting areas, in
several languages, informing applicants and clients of their right to
free interpreter services and inviting them to identify themselves as
persons needing language assistance;
Use of ``I speak cards'' by intake workers and other
client contact personnel so that applicants/clients can identify their
primary languages;
Requiring intake workers to note the language of the LEP
person in his/her record so that all subsequent interaction will be
conducted in the appropriate language;
Employment of a sufficient number of staff, bilingual in
appropriate languages, in applicant and client contact positions. These
persons must be qualified interpreters;
Contracts with interpreting services that can provide
qualified interpreters in a wide variety of languages, in a timely
manner;
Formal arrangements with community groups for qualified
and timely interpreter services by community volunteers;
An arrangement with a telephone language interpreter line;
Translation of application forms, instructional,
informational and other key documents into appropriate languages other
than English. Oral interpretation of documents for persons who speak
languages not regularly encountered;
Procedures for effective telephone communication between
staff and LEP persons, including instructions for English-speaking
employees to obtain assistance from bilingual staff or interpreters
when initiating or receiving calls from LEP persons;
Notice to and training of all staff, particularly
applicant and client contact staff, with respect to the recipient's
Title VI and Section 188 obligation to provide language assistance to
LEP persons, and on the language assistance policies and procedures to
be followed in securing such assistance in a timely manner;
Insertion of notices, in appropriate languages, about the
right of LEP applicants and clients to free interpreters and other
language assistance, in brochures, pamphlets, manuals, and other
materials disseminated to the public and to staff;
Notice to the public regarding the language assistance
policies and procedures, plus notice to and consultation with community
organizations that serve LEP persons regarding problems and solutions,
including standards and procedures for using their members as volunteer
interpreters;
Adoption of a procedure for the resolution of complaints
regarding the provision of language assistance, and for notifying and
educating clients of the right to file a complaint of discrimination
under Title VI and Section 188 with DOL; and,
Appointment of a senior level employee to coordinate the
language assistance program and ensure that there is regular monitoring
of the program.
Consideration of LEP needs when implementing new programs
or activities, publishing new forms or notices, etc.

Compliance and Enforcement

The recommendations outlined above are not intended to be
exhaustive. Recipients have considerable flexibility in determining how
to meet their legal obligations in the LEP setting, and are not
required to use all of the suggested methods and options listed.
However, recipients must establish and implement policies and
procedures to provide language assistance sufficient to fulfill their
Title VI and section 188 responsibilities and that give LEP persons
meaningful access to services.
CRC will enforce Title VI and section 188 as they apply to
recipients' responsibilities to LEP persons through the procedures
provided for in 29 CFR Parts 31 and 37. These procedures include
complaint investigations, compliance reviews, efforts to secure
voluntary compliance, and technical assistance.
CRC regulations state that CRC will investigate any complaint,
report or other information that alleges or indicates possible
noncompliance with Title VI and section 188. If the investigation
results in a finding of compliance, CRC will inform the recipient in
writing of this determination, including the basis for the
determination. If the investigation results in a finding of
noncompliance, CRC will inform the recipient of the noncompliance in a
Letter of Findings that sets out the areas of noncompliance and the
steps that must be taken to correct the noncompliance. At this stage,
the CRC will attempt to secure voluntary compliance through informal
means. If the matter cannot be resolved informally, CRC must secure
compliance through (a) the termination of federal assistance after the
recipient has been given an opportunity for an administrative hearing,
(b) referral to DOJ for injunctive relief or other enforcement
proceedings; or, (c) any other means authorized by law.
As the regulations set forth above indicate, CRC has a legal
obligation to seek voluntary compliance in resolving cases and cannot
seek the termination of funds until it has engaged in voluntary
compliance efforts and has determined that compliance cannot be secured
voluntarily. CRC will engage in voluntary compliance efforts, and will
provide technical assistance to recipients at all stages of its
investigation. During these efforts to secure voluntary compliance, CRC
will propose reasonable timetables for achieving compliance and will
consult with and assist recipients in exploring cost effective ways of
coming into compliance, by increasing awareness of emerging
technologies, and by sharing information on how other recipients have
addressed the language needs of diverse populations.
In determining a recipient's compliance with Title VI and section
188, CRC's primary concern is to ensure that the recipient's policies
and procedures overcome barriers resulting from language differences
that would deny LEP persons meaningful opportunities to participate in
and access programs, services and benefits. A recipient's appropriate
use of the methods and options discussed in this policy guidance will
be viewed by CRC as evidence of a recipient's willingness to comply
with its Title VI and section 188 obligations.

Technical Assistance

CRC will continue to provide substantial technical assistance to
recipients, and will continue to be available to provide such
assistance to any recipient seeking to ensure that it operates an
effective language assistance program. In addition, during its
investigative process, CRC is available to provide technical assistance
to enable recipients to come into voluntary compliance.

[FR Doc. 01-1336 Filed 1-16-01; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4510-23-P



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This page was last updated on January 18, 2001

General Information Federal Coordination and Compliance
Federal Coordination and Compliance
Title VI Hotline: 1-888-TITLE-06
(1-888-848-5306) (Voice / TTY)
Leadership
Deeana Jang
Chief
Contact
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Federal Coordination and Compliance Section, NWB
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

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