Limited English Proficiency (LEP)
Most individuals living in the United States read, speak and
understand English. There are many individuals, however, for whom
English is not their primary language. For instance, based on
the 2000 census, over 26 million individuals speak Spanish and
almost 7 million individuals speak an Asian or Pacific Island
language at home. If these individuals have a limited ability
to read, speak, or understand English, they are limited English
proficient, or "LEP." While detailed data from the 2000
census has not yet been released, 26% of all Spanish-speakers,
29.9% of all Chinese-speakers, and 28.2% of all Vietnamese-speakers
reported that they spoke English "not well" or "not
at all" in response to the 1990 census.
Language for LEP individuals can be a barrier to accessing important
benefits or services, understanding and exercising important rights,
complying with applicable responsibilities, or understanding other
information provided by federally funded programs and activities.
The Federal Government funds an array of services that can be
made accessible to otherwise eligible LEP persons. Recipients
of federal financial assistance have an obligation to reduce language
barriers that can preclude meaningful access by LEP persons to
important government services.
LEP Sub Navigation: