Language Access means providing Limited English Proficient (LEP) people with reasonable access to the same services as English-speaking individuals
LEPs refers to individuals who are not fluent in, or have difficulty communicating in, English. While most LEP individuals are immigrants, nearly 4.7 million were born in the US. Without language access, we deprive individuals of their dignity and reject our moral, and oftentimes legal, obligations. Implementation of language access legislation starts as early as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, where under the Title VI Act, states that “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.” Moreover, language access legislation was further enforced under President Bill Clinton’s Executive Order 13166 in 2000, known as Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency to Federal Agencies. The executive Order requires all federal agencies to establish guidelines on providing meaningful access to LEP individuals in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and to issue guidelines to recipients of their funding to clarify what they must do to provide meaningful access to LEP persons.
Language Access legislation varies state by state. There are three federal laws that provide LEP individuals competent language access resources