People who do not speak English as their primary language and have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English fit the federal definition of Limited English Proficient, or "LEP." These individuals may be entitled to language assistance for services, benefits, or meetings. Federal laws applicable to language access include
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on national origin, and Executive Order 13166, issued in 2000. Also applicable is Maryland Chapter 141 of the Acts of 2002.
Executive Order 13166 requires federal agencies and others receiving federal funds to examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to those with LEP, and develop a system to provide those services so LEP persons can access them. Agency plans should provide meaningful access without unduly burdening the fundamental mission of the agency. The executive order also requires that the federal agencies ensure that recipients of federal financial assistance, such as the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA), provide meaningful access to LEP applicants and beneficiaries.
More information on Executive Order 13166 is at
Executive Order 13166: Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency.
Chapter 141 of the Acts of 2002 is a State reaffirmation of Executive Order 13166. The law declares that State departments, agencies, and programs shall provide equal access to public services for individuals with Limited English Proficiency; requiring vital documents to be translated into any language spoken by any Limited English Proficient population that constitutes 3 percent of the overall population within a specified geographic area.
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