Federal Coordination and Compliance Section Publications

 [Federal Register: March 15, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 51)] [Notices]                [Page 15141-15146] From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov] [DOCID:fr15mr01-103]                           ======================================================================= -----------------------------------------------------------------------  NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION  [Notice: 01-037]    Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as Amended: Policy  Guidance on the Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination As  It Affects Persons With Limited English Proficiency  AGENCY: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  ACTION: Notice of policy guidance with request for comments.  -----------------------------------------------------------------------  SUMMARY: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d- 2000d-42, as amended, and NASA's implementing regulation at 14 CFR part  1250 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. NASA is publishing policy  guidance on Title VI's prohibition against national origin  discrimination as it affects Limited English Proficient (LEP) persons.  DATES: This guidance is effective immediately. Comments must be  received by May 14, 2001. NASA 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 Mr.  George E. Reese, Associate Administrator for Equal Opportunity  Programs, Code E, NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street, SW, Room 4W31,  Washington, DC 20546.  FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Frederick Dalton, 202-358-0958, or  TDD: 202-358-3748. Arrangements to receive the policy in an alternative  format may be made by contacting Mr. Frederick J. Dalton.  SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The purpose of this policy guidance is to  clarify the responsibilities of institutions and/or entities that  receive financial assistance from NASA, and    assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities to LEP persons,  pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The policy  guidance emphasizes that in order to avoid discrimination against LEP  persons on grounds of national origin, recipients of NASA financial  assistance must take adequate steps to ensure that people who are not  proficient in English can effectively participate in and benefit from  the recipient's programs and activities. Therefore, LEP persons should  expect to receive the language assistance necessary to afford them  meaningful access to the recipients' programs and activities, free of  charge.  Background      English is the predominant language of the United States. According  to the 1990 Census, English is spoken by 95% of its residents. Of those  U.S. residents who speak languages other than English at home, the 1990  Census reports that only 57% above the age of four speak English ``well  to very well.''     The United States is home to millions of individuals who are LEP.  That is, they cannot speak, read, write or understand the English  language at a level that permits them to benefit from NASA's  financially assisted programs and activities. Accommodation of LEP  individuals through the provision of effective language assistance will  allow NASA to ``provide for the widest practicable and appropriate  dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results  thereof'' (Section 203(a)(3) of the National Aeronautics and Space Act  of 1958, as amended, Public Law 85-568, July 29, 1958), and ensure  compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.     This policy guidance is consistent with Department of Justice (DOJ)  LEP Guidance, which specifies that recipients have an obligation  pursuant to Title VI's prohibition against national origin  discrimination to provide oral and written language assistance to LEP  persons, free of charge.\1\ ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      \1\ The DOJ LEP Guidance was issued August 11, 2000. (65 FR  50123, August 16, 2000.) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------  Authority  Statute and Regulations      Section 601 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d,  states: ``No person in the United States shall, on the ground 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.''     NASA Regulations implementing Title VI, provide in part at 14 CFR  1250.103-2 that:     (a) A recipient under any program to which this part applies may  not, directly or through contractual or other arrangements, on ground  of race, color, or national origin:     (1) Deny an individual any service, financial aid, or other benefit  provided under the program;     (2) 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;     (3) In determining the site or location of facilities, a recipient  or applicant may not make selections with the purpose or effect of  excluding individuals from, denying them the benefits of, or subjecting  them to discrimination under any program to which this regulation  applies, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin; or with the  purpose or effect of defeating or substantially impairing the  accomplishment of the objectives of the Act or this regulation.     (4) Subject an individual to segregation or separate treatment in  any matter related to his receipt of any service, financial aid, or  other benefit under the program;     (5) Restrict an individual in any way in the enjoyment of any  advantage or privilege enjoyed by others receiving any service,  financial aid, or other benefit under the program;     (6) Treat an individual differently from others in determining  whether he satisfies any admission, enrollment, quota, eligibility,  membership or other requirement or condition which individuals must  meet in order to be provided any service, financial aid, or other  benefit provided under the program;     (7) Deny an individual an opportunity to participate in the program  through the provision of services or otherwise or afford him an  opportunity to do so which is different from that afforded others under  the program (including the opportunity to participate in the program as  an employee but only to the extent set forth in Sec. 1250.103-3).     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 if they have an adverse effect on the ability to  meaningfully access programs and services. Accordingly, recipients must  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.  Guidance  (1) Who is Covered      All entities that receive financial assistance from NASA, either  directly or indirectly, through a Research Grant, Education Grant,  Training Grant, Facilities Grant, Cooperative Agreement, under the  authority of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (Space  Act), as amended, 42 U.S.C. 2451 et seq., and/or the National Space  Grant College and Fellowship Act, 42 U.S.C. 2486-24861, are covered by  this guidance. In addition, entities with whom NASA enters into other  agreements under the Space Act in order to meet its wide-ranging  mission and program requirements and objectives are also covered by  this policy guidance. Recipients may include: any state or local  agency, private institution or organization, or any public or private  individual to whom Federal assistance is extended, directly or through  another recipient including any successor, assign, or transferee  thereof.     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, and details of Federal  personnel. Furthermore, it includes the sale or lease of Federal  property or any interest in such property without consideration or at a  nominal consideration, at a consideration which is reduced for the  purpose of assisting the recipient, or in recognition of the public  interest to be served by such sale or lease to the recipient. Finally,  it includes any Federal agreement, arrangement, or other contract that  has as one of its purposes the provision of assistance.     In the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 (CRRA), Congress  defined the scope of a program or activity covered by Title VI. 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 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 by only one part.    (2) Basic Requirements Under Executive Order 13166 and Title VI      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, assess and address the needs of otherwise eligible LEP  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  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. At a minimum, a recipient shall implement a  balancing analysis considering the following four factors: (a) The  number or proportion of LEP persons in the eligible service population;  (b) the frequency with which LEP individuals come in contact with the  program; (c) the importance of the service provided by the program,  and; (d) the resources available to the recipient.     The recipient shall make its assessment of the language assistance  needed to ensure meaningful access on a case by case basis, and will  have considerable flexibility in determining precisely how to fulfill  this obligation. NASA will focus on the end result--whether LEP persons  have meaningful access to the recipient's programs and/or activities.     The key to providing meaningful access for LEP persons 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, understands the purpose of the programs and/or  activities available, and is not prevented by language barriers from  deriving the benefits of such programs and/or activities.  (3) Ensuring Meaningful Access to LEP Persons      Introduction--The Four Keys to Title VI Compliance in the LEP  Context     NASA recipients have considerable flexibility in providing language  assistance to LEP persons. Usually, effective programs of language  assistance have the following four elements:     (a) Assessment--The recipient conducts a thorough assessment of the  language needs of the program and/or activity's target population. This  assessment shall consider, at a minimum, the following four factors:  (a) The number or proportion of LEP persons in the eligible service  population; (b) the frequency with which LEP individuals come in  contact with the program; (c) the importance of the service provided by  the program; and, (d) the resources available to the recipient.     (b) Development of Comprehensive Written Policy on Language  Access--A recipient can ensure effective communication by developing  and implementing a comprehensive written language assistance program  that includes policies and procedures to ensure free language  assistance, periodic training of staff, the monitoring of the program,  and the translation of written materials in certain circumstances.     (c) Training of Staff--The recipient takes steps to ensure that  staff understands the policy and is capable of carrying it out. A 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 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 clients and providers. It is important that this training be  part of an orientation for new employees and that all employees in  potential LEP community contact positions be properly trained.  Effective training is one means of ensuring that there is not a gap  between a recipient's written policies and procedures, and the actual  practices of employees who are in the front lines interacting with LEP  persons.     (d) Monitoring--The recipient conducts regular oversight of the  language assistance program to ensure that LEP persons meaningfully  access the program(s). It is important for a recipient to frequently  monitor its language assistance program to assess the current LEP  demography where its programs and/or activities are conducted; 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 the LEP community and advocates.  Compliance with the Title VI language assistance obligations 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.  (4) Types of Language Assistance      Oral Language Interpretation--The following are language assistance  options that can be implemented in order to meet the needs of LEP  population(s):     (a) Staff Interpreters--Paid staff interpreters are especially  appropriate where there is a frequent and/or regular need for  interpreting services. These persons must be competent and readily  available.     (b) Contract Interpreters--The use of contract interpreters may be  an option for recipients that have an infrequent need for interpreting  services, have less common LEP language groups in their programs and  activities, or need to supplement their in-house capabilities on an as- needed basis. Such contract interpreters should be readily available  and competent.     (c) Community Volunteers--Use of community volunteers may provide  recipients with a cost-effective method for providing interpreter  services. However, 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  subjected to ad hoc requests for assistance. In addition, recipients  must ensure that these volunteers are competent as interpreters.  Additional language assistance must be provided where competent  volunteers are not readily available.      Example 1-- NASA provides funds to a number of public schools in  urban areas. The funds, in the form of grants, are utilized to  provide selected students extended-day activities, Saturday  activities, and field experiences focusing on the acquisition of  knowledge and development of skills in science, mathematics, and  application of technology; career opportunities; and exposure to  role models in the aforementioned fields. The target population is  6th, 7th, and 8th graders.     A review of the target population reveals that fifteen percent  of the target population is enrolled in English as a Second Language  (ESL) classes, and that another seven percent is enrolled in the  Bilingual Education (BE) program. The first languages for the ESL  and BE 6th, 7th, and 8th grade population are Spanish and French.  After determining the demographic context of the target audience,  and the importance of the benefits that could be derived by the  participants, the recipient decides to translate the brochure  announcing the program and outlining application requirements into  Spanish and French. The    translations are done by BE educators fluent in both languages. The  translated brochures are sent home with the students in order to  inform the parents (or guardians) of the program, its objectives and  benefits. On the program brochures, there is a note advising the  parents (or guardians) that language assistance can be provided at  no cost to LEP students selected to participate in the program.     Given the steps taken to inform the target population about the  program, and to facilitate identification of potential participants  needing alternative language services, the recipient would be  considered to have taken reasonable steps to comply with its LEP  obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as  amended, during the announcement stage of the program.     Example 2-- ABC Company is located in Los Angeles, California,  an area with a significant population of Asian language speakers.  ABC Company (the recipient) receives NASA financial assistance in  its research and development programs. The recipient publishes  brochures and other written materials available to the public  electronically and in hard-copy format. The recipient also conducts  community outreach programs, including education and training  programs, with local elementary and secondary schools. In order to  achieve full compliance with Title VI requirements, the recipient  should review all of its programs affecting the public to determine  whether it is providing meaningful access to LEP persons. The  recipient should focus its review on such issues as to whether to  provide oral language interpreters and how to ensure that the  written materials are available in languages other than English.  Partnerships with community organizations and educational  institutions can be forged in order to address the LEP needs of the  community and ensure that the recipient's programs and activities  remain accessible and not restricted because of language barriers.     Translation of Written Materials--An effective language  assistance program ensures that written materials routinely provided  in English to the public are available in regularly encountered  languages other than English. It is particularly important to ensure  that vital documents, such as applications; materials containing  important information regarding participation in a program; notices  pertaining to the reduction, denial or termination of a program and/ or activity; notices advising LEP persons of the availability of  free language assistance; and other outreach materials be translated  into the non-English language of each identified eligible LEP group  likely to be directly affected by a recipient's program.      One way for a recipient to know with greater certainty that it will  be found in compliance with its obligations to provide written  translations in languages other than English is for the recipient to  meet ``Safe Harbor'' standards. A recipient that provides written  translations under the following circumstances will be considered by  NASA to be in compliance with its obligation under Title VI regarding  written translations.\2\ ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      \2\ The ``Safe Harbor'' provisions are not intended to establish  numerical thresholds for the translation of written materials by  recipients. The numbers are based on the U.S. Department of Health  and Human Services' (DHHS) experience in enforcing Title VI and are  to be used as a point of reference in implementing specific steps to  ensure that LEP is not a barrier to program participation. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------      (i) The recipient provides translated written materials, including  vital documents, for each eligible LEP language group that constitutes  10 percent of the population of persons likely to be directly effected  by the recipient's program., or 3,000 persons, whichever is less;     (ii) For LEP language groups that do not fall within paragraph (i)  above, but constitute 5 percent or 1,000 persons, whichever is less, of  the population of persons likely to be directly effected, the recipient  ensures that, at a minimum, vital documents are translated into the  appropriate non-English language(s) of such LEP persons. Translation of  other documents, if needed, can be provided orally.     (iii) A recipient with fewer than 100 persons in a language group  likely to be directly effected by the recipient's program, does not  translate written materials but provides written notice in the primary  language of the LEP language group of the right to receive competent  oral translation of written materials.  (5) Promising Practices      In meeting the needs of LEP persons, some recipients have found  unique ways of providing interpreter services and reaching out to the  LEP community. Examples of promising practices include the following:     (a) Language Banks--In several parts of the country, both urban and  rural, community organizations have created community language banks  that train, hire, and dispatch competent interpreters to participating  organizations, 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.     (b) Language Support Office--A State social services agency has  established an ``Office for Language Interpreter Services and  Translation.'' This office tests and certifies all in-house and  contract interpreters, provides agency-wide support for translation of  forms, client mailings, publications and other written materials into  non-English languages, and monitors the policies of the agency and its  vendors that affect LEP persons.     (c) Use of Technology--Some recipients use their internet and/or  intranet capabilities to post translated documents online. These  translated documents can be accessed as needed.     (d) Telephone Information Lines--Recipients have established  telephone information lines in languages spoken by frequently  encountered language groups to instruct callers, in the non-English  languages, on how to leave a recorded message that will be answered by  someone who speaks the caller's language.     (e) Signage and Other Outreach--Other recipient/covered entities  have provided information about programs and/or activities, and the  availability of free language assistance, in appropriate languages by:  (i) Posting signs and placards with this information in public places;  (ii) putting notices in newspapers, and on radio and television  stations that serve LEP groups; (iii) placing flyers and signs in the  offices of community organizations that serve large populations of LEP  persons; and (iv) establishing information lines in appropriate  languages.  (6) Compliance and Enforcement      Failure to implement any of the measures mentioned in this guidance  does not mean noncompliance with Title VI, and NASA, or its designee,  will review the totality of the circumstances in each case. NASA's  designee for conducting complaint investigations and compliance reviews  in elementary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher  education, is the U.S. Department of Education under the Delegation  Agreement published at 52 FR 43385 (Nov. 12, 1987).     The Title VI regulations provide that NASA's Associate  Administrator for Equal Opportunity Programs, the Agency's Principal  Compliance Officer (PCO), or his/her designee, will investigate  whenever NASA receives a complaint, report or other information that  alleges or indicates possible noncompliance with Title VI. If the  investigation results in a finding of compliance, the PCO, or his/her  designee, will inform the recipient in writing of this determination,  including the basis for the determination. If the investigation results  in a finding of noncompliance, the PCO or his/her designee, will so  inform the recipient and the matter will be resolved through informal  means, whenever possible. If the matter cannot be resolved, compliance  may be effected by the    suspension or termination of or refusal to grant or to continue Federal  financial assistance or by any other means authorized by law.     Recipients have considerable flexibility in determining how to  comply with their legal obligation in the LEP setting, and are not  required to use all of the suggested methods and options mentioned in  these guidelines. However, recipients must establish and implement  policies and procedures for providing language assistance sufficient to  fulfill their Title VI responsibilities and provide LEP persons with  meaningful access to services.     NASA will enforce Title VI as it applies to recipients'  responsibilities to LEP persons through the procedures provided for in  its Title VI regulations. These procedures include complaint  investigations, compliance reviews, efforts to secure voluntary  compliance, and technical assistance.     Under 14 CFR 1250.107, NASA 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. NASA 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, NASA will propose  reasonable timetables for achieving compliance and will consult with  and assist recipients in exploring cost effective ways of coming into  compliance, by sharing information on potential community resources, by  increasing awareness of emerging technologies, and by sharing  information on how other recipients have addressed the language needs  of diverse populations.     Executive Order 13166 requires that each Federal department or  agency extending Federal financial assistance subject to Title VI issue  separate guidance implementing uniform Title VI compliance standards  with respect to LEP persons. Where recipients of Federal financial  assistance from NASA also receive assistance from one or more other  Federal departments or agencies, there is no obligation to conduct and  document separate but identical analyses and language assistance plans  for NASA. Therefore, in discharging its compliance and enforcement  obligations under Title VI, NASA may rely on analyses performed and  plans developed in response to similar detailed LEP guidance issued by  other Federal agencies. In determining a recipient's compliance with  Title VI, NASA's primary concern is to ensure that the recipient's  policies and procedures overcome barriers resulting from language  differences that would deny LEP persons a meaningful opportunity to  participate in and access programs and activities, and their respective  benefits. A recipient's appropriate use of the methods and options  discussed in this guidance will be viewed by NASA as evidence of a  recipient's good faith effort to voluntarily comply with its Title VI  obligations.  (7) English-Only Provisions      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 a recipient of Federal financial assistance from its  responsibilities under Federal anti-discrimination laws. Entities in  states and localities with ``English-only'' laws are not required to  accept Federal funding--but if they do, they must comply with Title VI,  including its prohibition against national origin discrimination by  recipients of Federal assistance. Failure to make Federally assisted  programs and activities accessible to individuals who are LEP will, in  certain circumstances, be found to be in violation of Title VI.  (8) Technical Assistance      NASA's Office of Equal Opportunity Programs (OEOP) will provide  technical assistance to recipients, and will 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, NASA is available to provide technical  assistance to enable recipients to come into voluntary compliance.  (9) Attachment      Appendix A is a summary, in question and answer format, of a number  of the critical elements of this guidance. It is intended to assist  recipients in understanding their obligations under Title VI to ensure  meaningful access to LEP persons.  Appendix A  Questions and Answers Regarding NASA's Policy Guidance on the Title VI  Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination as it Affects  Persons with Limited English  Proficiency      1. Q. What is the purpose of the guidance on language access  released by NASA?     A. The purpose of the guidance is two-fold: first, to clarify  the responsibilities of entities who receive Federal financial  assistance from NASA, and assist them in fulfilling their  responsibilities to Limited English Proficient (LEP) persons,  pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended  (Title VI); and second, to clarify to members of the public that  recipients of Federal financial assistance from NASA must ensure  that LEP persons have meaningful access to their programs and  activities.     2. Q. What does the policy guidance do?     A. The policy guidance does the following:      Reiterates the principles of Title VI with respect to  LEP persons.      Discusses the policies, procedures and other steps that  recipients can take to ensure meaningful access to their program by  LEP persons.      Clarifies that failure to take one or more of these  steps does not necessarily mean noncompliance with Title VI.      Provides that NASA will determine compliance on a case  by case basis, and that such assessments will take into account the  size of the recipient, the size of the LEP population, the nature of  the program, the resources available, and the frequency of use by  LEP persons.      Provides that recipients with limited resources will  have a great deal of flexibility in achieving compliance.      Provides that NASA will extend technical assistance to  recipients, as needed.     3. Q. Who should follow the guidance?     A. Covered entities include any State, political subdivision of  any State, or instrumentality of any State or political subdivision,  any public or private agency, institution, or organization, or other  entity, or any individual to whom Federal financial assistance is  extended, directly or through another recipient, including any  successor, assign, or transferee thereof.     4. Q. How does the guidance affect small recipients?     A. The key to providing meaningful access for LEP persons is to  ensure that the objective and content of the program can be  communicated to the LEP person and the LEP person is able to  understand the benefits available and is able to receive those  benefits in a timely manner. Small recipients will have considerable  flexibility in determining precisely how to fulfill their  obligations to ensure meaningful access for persons with limited  English proficiency. NASA will assess compliance on a case by case  basis and will take into account the size of the recipient, the size  of the LEP population that the program will impact, the nature of  the program, the objectives of the program, the total resources  available to the recipient, the frequency with which languages other  than English are encountered and the frequency with which LEP  persons come into contact with the program. There is no ``one size  fits all'' solution for Title VI compliance with respect to LEP  persons. In other words, NASA will focus on whether LEP persons have  access to the programs provided by the recipient. NASA will be  available to provide technical assistance to any recipient seeking  to ensure that s/he operates an effective language assistance  program.        5. Q. The guidance identifies some specific circumstances under  which NASA will consider a program to be in compliance with its  obligation under Title VI to provide written materials in languages  other than English. Does this mean that a recipient will be  considered out of compliance with Title VI if its program does not  fall within these circumstances?     A. No. The circumstances outlined in the guidance are intended  to provide ``Safe Harbor'' for recipients who desire greater  certainty with respect to their obligations to provide written  translations. Thus, a recipient whose policies and practices fall  within these circumstances will generally be found in compliance  with Title VI. However, the failure to fall within the ``safe  harbors'' outlined in the guidelines does not mean that a recipient  is not in compliance with Title VI. In such circumstances, NASA will  review the totality of circumstances to determine the precise nature  of a recipient's obligation to provide written materials in  languages other than English. If translation of a certain document  or set of documents would be so financially burdensome as to defeat  the legitimate objectives of its program, or 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), NASA will likely  not find the translation necessary for compliance with Title VI.     6. Q. The guidance makes reference to ``vital documents'' and  notes that, in certain circumstances, a recipient/covered entity may  have to translate such documents into other languages. What is a  vital document?     A. Given the programs and activities receiving NASA financial  assistance, we do not attempt to identify vital documents and  information with specificity in each program area. Rather, written  material should be considered vital if it contains information that  is critical for accessing the recipient's programs and activities,  and their respective benefits. Thus, vital documents include, but  are not limited to, announcements of programs and activities,  applications to participate in programs and activities, letters or  notices that require a response from the potential program  participant, and documents that advise of free language assistance.  NASA will also collaborate with its recipients to assist in  determining which documents are deemed to be vital within a  particular program.     7. Q. Will recipients have to translate large documents?     A. Not necessarily. As part of its overall language assistance  program, a recipient must develop and implement a plan to provide  written materials in languages other than English where a  significant number or percentage of the population likely to be  directly affected by the program needs services or information in a  language other than English to communicate effectively. NASA can  provide technical assistance to recipients in assessing the need for  written translation of documents and vital information contained in  larger documents on a case by case basis. Large documents, such as  handbooks, may not need to be translated or may not need to be  translated in their entirety. For example, a recipient may be  required to provide written translations of vital information  contained in larger documents, but may not have to translate the  entire document, to meet its obligations under Title VI.     8. Q. May a recipient require a LEP person to use a family  member or a friend as his or her interpreter?     A. No. The recipient is expected to inform the LEP person of the  right to receive free interpreter services first and permit the use  of family and friends only after such offer of assistance has been  declined.     9. Q. How does blindness and deafness among the LEP population  affect the obligations of Federal fund recipients?     A. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended,  requires that recipients provide sign language and oral interpreters  for people who have hearing impairments and provide materials in  alternative formats such as in large print, Braille, or on tape for  individuals with visual disabilities. A recipient is expected to  provide the same assistance and/or services to members of the LEP  population in the particular LEP group's primary language.     10. Q. Can NASA provide help to recipients who wish to come into  compliance with Title VI?     A. Yes. NASA OEOP staff at Headquarters and Equal Opportunity  (EO) Officers at all NASA Centers are prepared to work with  recipients to help them meet their obligations under Title VI. As  part of its technical assistance services, NASA can help identify  best practices and successful strategies used by other federal fund  recipients, identify sources of federal reimbursement for  translation services, and point recipients to other resources.     11. Q. How will NASA enforce compliance by recipients with the  LEP requirements of Title VI?     A. NASA will enforce Title VI as it applies to recipients  through the procedures provided for in the Title VI regulations (14  CFR Part 1250). Title VI regulations provide that NASA will  investigate whenever it receives a complaint, report, or other  information that alleges or indicates possible noncompliance with  Title VI. If the investigation results in a finding of compliance,  NASA will inform the recipient in writing of this determination,  including the basis for the determination. If the investigation  results in a finding of noncompliance, NASA must inform the  recipient of the noncompliance in writing. By regulation, NASA must  attempt to secure voluntary compliance through informal means. If  the matter cannot be resolved informally, NASA 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.     12. Q. Does issuing this guidance mean that NASA will be  changing how it enforces compliance with Title VI?     A. No. How NASA enforces Title VI is governed by the Title VI  implementing regulations at 14 CFR 1250. The methods and procedures  used to investigate and resolve complaints, and conduct compliance  reviews, have not changed.      Dated: March 12, 2001. George E. Reese, Associate Administrator for Equal Opportunity Programs.  [FR Doc. 01-6500 Filed 3-14-01; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7510-01-U  
Updated August 6, 2015