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[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


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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; 
(800) 877-8339 (relay). 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.

[[Page 4599]]

    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.
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    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.
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    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\
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    \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