Language Access Rights & Laws

1. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VI ensures language access for individuals with limited English proficiency. Pursuant to its prohibition against discrimination based on race, color, or national origin, organizations receiving federal financial assistance are required to develop and implement policies that ensure meaningful access for limited English proficient persons to their programs and activities.

Victims of domestic and sexual violence primarily receive services through programs funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). Programs receiving federal funds – directly or indirectly, through grants, contracts or subcontracts; dispersed by federal, state, county, or city authorities – are required to develop and implement policies that ensure meaningful access for limited English proficient persons. Non-compliance complaints may be filed at DOJ, Civil Rights Division, Federal Coordination and Compliance Section.

2. Executive Order 13166

E.O. 13166 requires federal agencies that provide federal financial assistance to issue guidances explaining the obligations of recipients to ensure meaningful access by limited English proficient (LEP) persons to their federally assisted programs.

3. DOJ Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons.

The Guidance addresses policies on interpretation services in legal, law enforcement and quasi-judicial settings. It recommends a 4-factor analysis to take reasonable steps to compliance:

  • The number or proportion of LEP persons in the eligible service population;
  • The frequency with which these LEP persons come into contact with the program;
  • The importance of the benefit or service to the LEP person; and
  • The resources available and costs to the recipient of federal financial assistance.

4. DOJ Guidance Letter to State Courts Regarding Their Obligation to Provide Language Access

The Assistant Attorney General’s letter on August 16, 2010, provides greater clarity regarding the requirement that courts receiving federal financial assistance provide meaningful access for LEP individuals.

5. Resources & Tip Sheets: Language Access & Interpretation

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