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LEP DOT Guidance
Office of the Secretary [Docket OST-2001-8696]
DOT Guidance to Recipients on Special Language Services
to Limited English Proficient (LEP) Beneficiaries
AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, DOT.
ACTION: Notice.
SUMMARY: The United States Department of Transportation 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 23, 2001. DOT 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 Marc Brenman,
Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Civil Rights, Department of Transportation, 400 7th
St. SW., Washington, DC 20590, or; comments may also
be submitted by facsimile at 202-366-9371.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:Marc Brenman, Office of Civil Rights, 400 7th St.
SW., Washington, DC 20590. Telephone 202-366-1119; e-mail;
or David Tochen, Office of the General Counsel, 400 7th St. SW., Washington, DC 20590,
202-366-9153, e-mail Arrangements to receive the policy
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 assistancefrom the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) (‘’recipients’’),
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 DOT’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 have meaningful access to the programs,
services, and information those recipients provide, free of charge.
The policy guidance includes an appendix. Appendix A summarizes DOT’s Title VI regulations,
as they apply to LEP persons.
Dated: January 16, 2001.
Ronald A. Stroman,
Director, Departmental Office of Civil Rights, Department of Transportation.
226 LEP DOT Guidance
DOT Guidance to Recipients on Special Language Services
to Limited English Proficient (LEP) Beneficiaries
I. Background
On August 11, 2000, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13166, entitled ‘’Improving
Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency.’’ 65 FR 50121 (September 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 (September 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 Act of 1964, as amended,
assess and address the needs of otherwise eligible limited English proficient persons
seeking access to the programs and activities of recipients of federal financial assistance.
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,
[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 number or
proportion of LEP persons in the eligible service population, the frequency with which
LEP individuals come in contact with the program, the importance of the service
provided by the program, and the resources available to the recipient.
Id. The DOJ LEP Guidance explains that the identification of ‘’reasonable steps’’ to
provide oral and written services in languages other than English is to be determined
on a case-by-case basis through a balancing of all four factors.
The failure to assure that people who are not proficient in English can effectively
participate in, and have meaningful access to, a Department of Transportation (DOT)
financial assistance recipient’s programs and activities may constitute national origin
discrimination prohibited by Title VI and implementing regulations. Supreme Court
precedent, and longstanding congressional provisions and federal agency regulations
have repeatedly instructed that a nexus exists between language and national origin.
As used throughout this Guidance, ‘’DOT’’ is intended to include all the Department’s
operating administrations, components, and Secretarial offices.
This LEP Guidance addresses the key elements that DOT encourages its recipients to
consider to ensure meaningful access to programs and activities by all people regardless
of race or national origin. The purpose of the Guidance is to assist recipients in complying
227 LEP DOT Guidance
with their Title VI responsibilities to ensure that access to their programs or activities,
normally provided in English, are accessible to LEP persons. The Guidance is consistent
with the requirements of Executive Order 13166 and with the DOJ LEP Guidance.
During the development of this Guidance, DOT has ensured that stakeholders, such as
LEP persons, their representative organizations, recipients, and other appropriate
individuals and entities have had an adequate opportunity to provide input. Additional
input is welcome.
Large numbers of minorities in the United States are linguistically isolated. According
to the 1990 U.S. Census, 31.8 million persons or 13% of the total U.S. population (ages 5
and above) speak a language other than English at home. Almost 2 million people do
not speak English at all and 4.8 million people do not speak English well. The 1990 U.S.
Census also found that various minority populations and subgroups are linguistically
isolated: Approximately 4 million Hispanics; approximately 1.6 million Asians and Pacific
Islanders; approximately 282,000 Blacks; and approximately 77,000 Native Americans
and Alaska Natives. Of those who speak Spanish in the United States, 97% are Hispanic.
Research indicates that the correlation between language and national origin is also
very high. As of 1989, 72.5% of Chinese Americans speak a language other than English
at home. Comparable figures for other Asian Pacific Islander groups exist for Cambodians
(81.9%), Vietnamese (80.7%), Laotians (77.4%), Thai (72.5%), Koreans (69.7%), Filipinos
(59.9%), Indians (55.3%), and Japanese (40.5%).
School districts in many parts of the country are experiencing a substantial increase
in the enrollment of national origin-minority students who cannot speak, read, or
write English well enough to participate meaningfully in educational programs without
appropriate support services. There are approximately 3.5 million LEP students in the
United States. The number of LEP students enrolled in public and nonpublic schools in
the United States continues to increase each year. Between 1990 and 1997, the number
of LEP students has risen by 57%. Most LEP students have parents whose skills in English
are less than that of the students. The reported number of LEP students in K-12 public
schools comprises 8% of the total public school enrollment in the United States. All
states enroll LEP students. The states with the largest reported number of LEP students
are California (1,381,383), Texas (513,634), and Florida (288,603). The states with the
largest reported percentage of LEP students are Alaska (26%), New Mexico (24%), and
California (22%). Since many public transportation providers also transport students
to and from school, these figures are important.
In regard to one state alone, Pennsylvania ranks tenth among all states in the numbers
of foreign-born persons who reside within its borders. Many of these individuals come
to the United States with limited English skills, and are at varying stages of learning
the English language. In all, more than seven percent of Pennsylvania’s residents speak
a primary language other than English. It is estimated that Philadelphia alone is home
228 LEP DOT Guidance
to approximately 30,000 Vietnamese, 25,000 ethnic Chinese, 10,000 Cambodians, and
7,000 Laotians. According to the 1990 Census, approximately 54% of persons in
Pennsylvania whose home language is an Asian language do not speak English very well.
Many welfare recipients wrestle with poor job skills, health problems, and lack of
transportation, in addition to language barriers. Besides the social, cultural and linguistic
barriers, which affect the delivery of adequate transportation services, there are other
factors that contribute to the poor social service status of LEP persons. These factors
include the following:
• Inadequate number of health care providers and other health care professionals
skilled in culturally competent and linguistically appropriate delivery of services.
• Scarcity of trained interpreters at the community level.
• Deficiency of knowledge about appropriate mechanisms to address language barriers
in transportation settings.
• Absence of effective partnerships between major mainstream provider organizations
and LEP minority communities.
• Low economic status.
• Lack of insurance.
• Organizational barriers.
One recipient reported to DOT as follows, regarding the barriers people who are LEP
face in transportation:
Language barriers prohibit people who are LEP from obtaining services and information
relating to transportation services and programs. Because people who are LEP are
not able to read instructions or correspondence written in English and may not
understand verbal information, they often are not aware of regulatory requirements
and legal implications of the services they seek. People who are LEP also do not
have the ability to read variable message signs which alert them to dangerous driving
conditions. When people who are LEP receive Orders or other legal documents, they
often do not understand the contents of the correspondence and its implication to
their daily lives. People who are LEP may not be able to take advantage of the
transit system, which could affect their job and social opportunities. When their
home or business property is acquired by the State DOT, they may not be aware
of or understand the benefits to which they are entitled. When individuals do not
understand or read English, they are hampered in seeking employment opportunities.
It is essential that transportation providers, professionals, and other DOT recipients
become informed about their diverse clientele from a linguistic, cultural and social
perspective. These individuals should become culturally competent so they can encourage
vulnerable LEP minority populations to access and receive appropriate transportation
services with more knowledge and confidence. 229 LEP DOT Guidance
Advantages to Recipients Other Than Providing
Beneficiary Access to Special Language (Spillover Benefits)
Helping Prevent Complaints:
DOT receives complaints from beneficiaries alleging that insufficient information has
been provided by recipients to beneficiaries in the primary or home language of the
beneficiaries. For example, in the current (as of the date of this guidance) Title VI
administrative complaint, West Harlem Environmental Action v. New York Metropolitan
Transportation Authority and New York City Transit, the complainants seek as a part
of their requested relief, ‘’Translating all notices about impending depot and bus parking
lot developments into Spanish.’’ Providing such services before complaints are filed may
help forestall such complaints and create better relations with beneficiary groups.
Economic Benefits:
Translations of public transportation service documents may assist tourists and help
establish localities as thoughtful and appropriate sites for global trade and investment.
II. Definitions
Limited-English-Proficient Persons:
Individuals with a primary or home language other than English who must, due to limited
fluency in English, communicate in that primary or home language if the individuals are
to have an equal opportunity to participate effectively in or benefit from any aid,
service or benefit provided by the transportation provider or other DOT recipient.
Linguistically Isolated:
This term is defined in the Census as the percentage of the persons in households in
which no one over the age of 14 speaks English well, and is used as a direct measure
of those persons with a severe language barrier, as distinct from those of foreign origin
who speak English well. Those who are linguistically isolated may also be unable to benefit
from transportation services and the services of other DOT recipients, and therefore
should receive attention from recipients as a high priority.
Federal financial assistance:
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 which has as
one of its purposes the provision of assistance.
Qualified interpreter:
Qualified interpreter means an interpreter who is able to interpret effectively, accurately,
and impartially, either for individuals with disabilities or for individuals with limited
English skills. The interpreter should be able to interpret both receptively and expressively,
using any necessary specialized vocabulary.
230 LEP DOT Guidance
Non-English language relay service:
A telecommunications relay service that allows persons with hearing or speech disabilities
who use languages other than English to communicate with voice telephone users in a
shared language other than English, through a communications assistant who is fluent
in that language.
III. Legal Background
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its implementing regulations prohibit recipients
of federal financial assistance from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national
origin. In certain circumstances, failure to provide meaningful access to LEP persons
is national origin discrimination. Most of the statements in this Guidance pertain to
services provided by a recipient, rather than employment by the recipient. However,
employment discrimination is covered by Title VI if the federal financial assistance is
provided for the purpose of employment or if employment discrimination results in
discrimination against program beneficiaries.
In order to avoid discrimination against LEP persons on the grounds of national origin,
Title VI and the DOT Title VI regulations require recipients to take reasonable steps
to ensure that LEP persons receive the language assistance necessary to afford them
meaningful access to their programs and activities. A useful test of compliance with
this guidance is to ask the question, ‘’If we do not provide the service in question in
a language a beneficiary understands, will the beneficiary still receive essentially the
same benefit or service that we provide to others who are fluent in English?’’
As discussed below, the framework for compliance with Title VI in this area is a flexible
one, and DOT recognizes that a ‘’one-size-fits-all’’ approach is not satisfactory.
For instance, some recipients may have different Title VI LEP concerns in communities
affected by their programs and activities, and may have different amounts of resources
available. DOT also recognizes that some recipients are already addressing Title VI
LEP concerns through existing programs and activities. We have tried to include examples
of these efforts under Section IX, entitled ‘’Promising Practices/Best Practices.’’ More
examples are welcome.
Many recipients of Federal financial assistance recognize that the failure to provide
language assistance to LEP persons may deny them vital access to programs or activities.
The failure to remove language barriers can be attributed to many reasons ranging from
ignorance of the fact that some members of the community are unable to communicate
in English to intentional discrimination on the basis of national origin. While there is
not always a direct relationship between an individual’s language and national origin,
language often serves as an identifier of national origin. As the Supreme Court observed
in Hernandez v. New York,
231 LEP DOT Guidance
[l]anguage elicits a response from others,
* * * ranging from admiration and respect, to distance and alienation, to ridicule
and scorn. Reactions of the latter type all too often result from or initiate racial
* * * It may well be, for certain ethnic groups and in some communities, that proficiency
in a particular language, like skin color, should be treated as a surrogate
for race under an equal protection analysis.
500 U.S. 352, 371 (1991). The significant discriminatory effects that result from the
failure to provide language assistance to LEP persons, places the treatment of LEP
individuals comfortably within the ambit of Title VI and DOT’s implementing regulations.
In Lau v. Nichols, 414 U.S. 563 (1974), the Supreme Court recognized that, pursuant
to Title VI, recipients of Federal financial assistance have an affirmative responsibility
to provide LEP persons with a meaningful opportunity to participate in publicly funded
programs. Lau involved a group of students of Chinese origin who did not speak English
to whom the recipient provided the same services—an education provided solely in
English—that it provided students who did speak English. The Court held that, under
these circumstances, the school district’s practice violated the Title VI prohibition
against discrimination on the basis of national origin. The Court observed that ‘’[i]t
seems obvious that the Chinese-speaking minority receive fewer benefits than the
English-speaking majority from respondents’ school system which denies them a meaningful
opportunity to participate in the educational program—all earmarks of the discrimination
banned by’’ the Title VI regulations. Courts have applied the doctrine enunciated in
Lau both inside and outside of the educational context. It has been considered in contexts
as varied as what languages drivers’ license tests must be given in, to whether material
relating to unemployment benefits must be provided in a language other than English.
Most recently, and in a transportation context, the Eleventh Circuit in Sandoval v. Hagan,
197 F. 3rd 484 (11th Cir. 1999) petition for certiorari granted, Alexander v. Sandoval,
121 S.Ct. 28 (Sept. 26, 2000) (No. 99–1908) held that the State of Alabama’s policy of
administering a driver’s license examination only in English was a facially neutral practice
that had a disproportionate 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 of foreign descent. It is interesting to note that the State produced no
evidence at trial that non-English speakers pose greater highway safety risks than
English speakers.
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
232 LEP DOT Guidance
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 if they have
a disproportionate adverse effect on LEP persons’ ability to access programs and services.
Accordingly, it is useful for recipients to examine their policies and practices to determine
whether they adversely affect LEP persons disproportionately. This LEP Guidance provides
a legal framework to assist recipients in conducting such assessments.
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 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 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 Department of Justice is the principal federal agency for coordinating Title VI
requirements. The obligation on the part of recipients to address the language needs
of beneficiaries has been a long-standing part of its Title VI coordination policies.
See 28 CFR 42.405(d)(1) (1976). Moreover, other federal agencies have adopted Title VI
enforcement policies that the denial of benefits to non-English speakers may result in
a disparate impact based on national origin in violation of Title VI. For example, inability
to drive a car adversely affects individuals in the form of lost economic opportunities,
social services, and other quality of life pursuits.
State or local ‘’English-Only’’ laws
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
antidiscrimination laws. State and local entities with ‘’English-only’’ laws are certainly
not required to accept federal funding—but if they do, they have to comply with Title VI
and its implementing regulations, including their 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.
In Sandoval v. Hagan, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit found that Alabama’s
‘’English-Only policy’’ had a significant disparate impact on foreign-born individuals,
and imposed significant adversity on individuals by excluding otherwise qualified drivers
from obtaining licenses. It enjoined the continued use of the ‘’English-Only policy’’
and ordered Alabama to submit a plan for compliance. People with licenses can get to
work in places not served by public transportation and earn better wages. The inability
233 LEP DOT Guidance
to drive also may stand in the way of satisfying other important needs, such as the need
to get emergency medical attention, particularly in rural areas not served by public
transportation. Additionally, driver’s licenses are the most common form of identification
in this country; without one, it is difficult to take part in the life of the community—
opening a bank account, cashing a check, getting a library card, etc. For these many
reasons, the inability of LEP persons to obtain driver’s licenses presents serious problems.
IV. Ensuring Meaningful Access to LEP Persons
Title VI and its regulations require recipients to take reasonable steps to ensure ‘’meaningful’’
access to DOT recipients’ programs and activities. The key to providing meaningful
access to LEP persons is to ensure that recipients and LEP beneficiaries can communicate
effectively and act appropriately based on that communication. Thus, DOT recipients
should take reasonable steps to ensure that LEP persons are given adequate information,
are able to understand that information, and are able to participate effectively in
recipient programs or activities, where appropriate. As the demographics of the United
States continue to change and the proportion of LEP communities and populations
continue to grow, a recipient’s challenge (as well as DOT’s challenge) will be to develop
linguistically appropriate and effective methods of communication with LEP persons
within the usual, tight resource constraints.
A. Assessment of Meaningful Access
DOT’s main focus when evaluating a Title VI complaint based on allegations of national
origin discrimination against LEP persons will be whether a recipient has taken reasonable
steps to eliminate barriers to meaningful communication with LEP individuals and to
provide necessary services equivalent to those provided to people who are fully English
proficient. What ‘’reasonable steps’’ should be taken will depend upon a number of
factors. These factors include the following:
• The number and proportion of LEP persons potentially served by the recipient’s
programs or activities, and the variety of languages spoken in the recipient’s
service area:
The recipient should consider the number or proportion of people who will be excluded
from participation in programs or activities without efforts to remove language barriers.
Programs and activities that affect a few or even one LEP person are subject to the
Title VI obligation to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful opportunities to obtain
services. Nevertheless, the steps that are reasonable for a recipient whose programs
or activities affect one LEP person a year may be different than those expected from
a recipient whose program or activity affects many LEP persons on a regular basis.
However, DOT encourages even those recipients whose programs or activities affect
very few LEP persons on an infrequent basis to consider reasonable steps for involvement
of LEP persons and to plan for situations in which LEP persons will be affected under
the program or activity in question. This plan need not be intricate; it may be as simple
234 LEP DOT Guidance
as having certain public notices translated into a language other than English, providing
an interpreter under certain conditions, or making available technological solutions
such as a telephone language line.
• The frequency with which LEP individuals are affected by the program or activity:
The frequency with which LEP persons are affected by the programs or activities is also
important. DOT encourages recipients to take into account the frequency with which
the recipient’s program or activity may affect LEP persons in its service area and to
have the flexibility to tailor its actions to those needs. For example, if the recipient
knows that there is a large LEP community that exists and that community is often
impacted by the recipient’s programs and activities, it may want to regularly translate
notices of public hearings and post them in areas where LEP individuals will see them.
DOT encourages recipients to use communication methods likely to reach the affected
community (e.g., insert information with utility bills, place public service announcements
on local radio shows, place notices on bulletin boards in grocery stores, houses of
worship, community newspapers and community centers). In the notices, you can provide
the option of translation services at public hearings if individuals contact you by
a certain date. This way, if no one responds you do not expend valuable resources
when no actual need for translation services exists.
Notices and information that are generally available to the public should be made
available to substantial LEP populations. For example, weather and road condition
telephone lines and websites should be available in translation. In areas with severe
weather, such notices will probably rise to the level of safety issues, and therefore
require the higher level of service described elsewhere in this guidance.
• The importance of the effect of the recipient’s program or activity on LEP persons,
bearing in mind that transportation is considered an essential service to participation
in modern society:
The importance of the effects of the recipient’s program or activity on LEP persons has
a direct bearing on the reasonableness of steps taken to ensure meaningful participation.
DOT encourages you to take more vigorous steps where the denial or delay of access
may have more crucial implications than in situations that are not as crucial to one’s
day-to-day activities. For example, the obligations of federally assisted health, emergency,
hazardous materials, and safety efforts differ from those of a Federally-assisted program
where safety or health is not at stake. DOT encourages you to consider the importance
of the participation in the program or activity to individuals both immediately and in
the long-term, as well as synergistic effects. In a study done in 1995, all Emergency
Medical Services (EMS) personnel who participated referred to language as a principal
challenge in effectively working with Hispanic community members. In addition, many
recently arrived Hispanics are not accustomed to using the telephone to access emergency
medical services. Such circumstances justify greater efforts by recipients to educate
235 LEP DOT Guidance
LEP individuals, as discussed elsewhere in this Guidance. In addition, inability to access
public transportation may adversely effect ability to obtain health care, education,
and jobs.
• The resources available to the recipient, and whether the recipient has budgeted
for provision of special language services:
Resources of a recipient may be a factor in determining the level and kind of language
services it should provide. Larger recipients with more resources will have more language
service responsibilities than smaller recipients with few resources. DOT will use a reasonableness
standard in evaluating whether a recipient’s efforts are sufficient. Where
excessive cost is proffered by a recipient as a reason for not undertaking necessary
special language services, DOT will evaluate the situation on a case-by-case basis. DOT’s
evaluation will include a consideration of the totality of the recipient’s circumstances,
including the size of the budget of the largest organizational entity which supervises
the work of the program, project or activity that directly receives DOT financial
assistance. For example, for a unit of a state department of transportation, the budget
of the entire state DOT will be used as a point of reference. Other considerations will
include those listed elsewhere in this Guidance, such as the size of the LEP population
needing services, the degree to which such populations have been historically excluded
from services, the availability of less costly alternative service modalities, whether the
costs can be amortized over time or are a one-time expense, whether services can be
phased in to avoid excessive cost in any one year, the possibility of alternate sources
of funds to pay for the necessary services, whether the services are required in response
to complaints or law suits, and how long the recipient has been on notice that the
special language services should be provided. Note that Title VI has been in existence
since 1964, and that recipients have been on notice that discrimination on the basis
of national origin has been prohibited since then.
• The level of services provided to fully English proficient people;
• Whether LEP persons are being excluded from services, or being provided a lower
level of services:
Only under rare circumstances could this exclusion be justified, and the burden of proving
the need for the exclusion would be very high. Example 1: The recipient provides no services
to a neighborhood where LEP people live, while providing services to a neighborhood
where fully English proficient people live. Example 2: Several years ago, a job access
program funded by DOT’s Federal Transit Administration stated in its brochures that
eligible applicants must ‘’speak English.’’ Note that the prohibition on exclusion due
to national origin would also apply to situations where a recipient excluded a beneficiary
from bringing an interpreter to a meeting, test, or other formal situation with the
recipient. Although DOT discourages reliance by recipients on beneficiary-supplied
interpreters, if the beneficiary desires to use one, and the recipient does not supply
236 LEP DOT Guidance
an interpreter, the recipient should permit his/her use. DOT recognizes that issues
of security of testing are sometimes thought to arise when an non-recipient-supplied
interpreter translates for a beneficiary. These issues are the responsibility of the
recipient. If security is felt to be a potential problem by a recipient, the recipient
bears the burden of supplying the interpreter.
• Whether the recipient has adequate justification for restrictions, if any, on special
language services or speaking languages other than English:
Such justifications would be accepted only in rare circumstances. Assertions of safety
justifications would generally not be accepted unless accompanied by statistical and/or
scientific causality studies and evidence showing a positive correlation between limited
English proficiency and crash and death/injury rates at rates substantially higher than
would be expected due to chance.
There is no one-size fits all solution for Title VI compliance with respect to LEP persons.
When investigating a Title VI complaint, DOT will assess language assistance allegations
on a case-by-case basis, and will afford considerable flexibility to recipients to determine
precisely how to fulfill this obligation. DOT will focus on the end result—whether recipients
have taken the necessary steps to ensure that LEP persons have meaningful access to
participate in their programs and activities, and whether those services are being provided
so that LEP persons have an equal opportunity to benefit from recipients’ services.
V. Compliance and Enforcement
The recommendations outlined in this Guidance are not intended to be exhaustive.
Recipients should establish and implement policies and procedures for providing language
assistance sufficient to fulfill their Title VI responsibilities and provide LEP persons
with meaningful access to services. DOT enforces Title VI as it applies to recipients’
responsibilities to LEP persons through the procedures provided for in DOT’s Title VI
regulations (49 CFR Part 21, see Appendix A), and in appropriate DOT operating administration
regulations. These procedures include complaint investigations, compliance
reviews, alternative dispute resolution, efforts to secure voluntary compliance and
technical assistance.
DOT’s Title VI regulations provide that the agency will investigate whenever it receives
a complaint, report or other information that alleges or indicates possible noncompliance
with Title VI. If the investigation results in a finding of compliance, DOT will inform
the recipient and the complainant in writing of this determination, including the basis
for the determination. If the investigation results in a finding of noncompliance, DOT
must inform the recipient of the noncompliance through a Letter of Findings that
sets out the areas of noncompliance and the steps that must be taken to correct the
noncompliance, and must attempt to secure voluntary compliance through informal
237 LEP DOT Guidance
means. If the matter cannot be resolved informally, DOT 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 Title VI regulations set forth in the Appendix indicate, DOT 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. During these efforts to secure voluntary compliance, DOT
consults with and assists recipients entities in exploring cost effective ways of coming
into compliance, by sharing information on potential community resources, by increasing
awareness of emerging technologies, by sharing information on how other recipients
entities have addressed the language needs of diverse populations, and by proposing
reasonable timetables for achieving compliance.
Whenever possible, DOT provides recipients with technical assistance upon request and
an opportunity to come into voluntary compliance with Title VI prior to initiating formal
enforcement proceedings. In determining a recipient’s compliance with Title VI, the
Departmental Office of Civil Rights’ (DOCR) primary concern is to ensure that the
recipient’s policies and procedures allow LEP persons to overcome language differences
that result in barriers and have a meaningful opportunity to participate in and access
programs, services and benefits to the same extent as fully English proficient persons.
A recipients’s appropriate use of the methods and options discussed in this policy
guidance will be viewed by DOCR as evidence of a recipient’s willingness to comply
voluntarily with its Title VI obligations.
Further, when reviewing any claim of discrimination, DOT considers the severity of the
adverse impact on LEP persons, the egregiousness or pervasiveness of any adverse action
taken by a recipient, and whether the recipient has shown an intent to discriminate.
Assurance Forms
When organizations apply for DOT financial assistance, they submit an assurance with
their applications that they will comply with the requirements of DOT’s regulations
implementing Title VI with respect to their programs and activities. When they receive
DOT financial assistance, they accept the obligation to comply with DOT’s Title VI
implementing regulations. These assurances should be understood to include provision
of services to national origin minority persons who are limited English proficient.
VI. Framework for Language Assistance
DOT has determined that effective language assistance programs usually address each
of the elements described below. The failure to incorporate or implement one or more
of these elements does not necessarily indicate noncompliance with Title VI. When
238 LEP DOT Guidance
investigating Title VI complaints, DOT will review the totality of the circumstances to
determine whether LEP persons have had meaningful access to participate effectively
in a recipient’s programs and activities.
1. Needs Assessment
A recipient should conduct a thorough assessment of the language needs of the population
and communities affected by the recipient.
The first key to ensuring meaningful access to LEP persons is to assess the language
needs of the affected population and communities served, through application of the
analysis described elsewhere in this Guidance. Ways to assess language needs include
identifying the non-English languages used in communities affected by the recipient,
estimating how many people speak each language, where they live, and how well they
are currently accessing services provided to those who are fully English proficient.
After identifying LEP communities, DOT encourages recipients to consider any barriers
to communication with these communities. It is possible that, in certain instances, the
results of the assessment may indicate that, although LEP communities are affected by
the programs and activities, there are no barriers to communication with these communities,
because they are bilingual, for instance, or do not need or want translation services.
An approach may be developed to identify geographic areas where LEP communities live
using existing resources such as census data, data from local organizations and community
groups, faith-based groups that provide services in languages other than English, immigrant
aid organizations, state refugee coordinators, non-English media outlets, and school
district LEP statistics. The latter are particularly valuable, since all school districts are
required to maintain data on LEP students and provide necessary special language services.
It is important to collaborate with community groups and other appropriate stakeholders
to develop the criteria for identifying geographic areas. Once the areas are identified,
the recipient can work with the affected communities and stakeholders to determine
their language assistance needs. The recipient may also choose to identify actual or
potential populations within a particular service area or area of responsibility.
Specifically, DOT encourages recipients to identify linguistically isolated populations
or job sites in which LEP persons represent a significant proportion of the workforce
(e.g., manual labor, hotel cleaning, food preparation, auto supplies, etc.) Transportation
entities in particular should be aware of the potential difficulties LEP people may have
in public transportation from home to work, health facilities, schools, shopping,
faith-based facilities, daycare, and leisure activities. New immigrants to the United
States from non-English speaking countries may be especially in need of special language
services. Note that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers ‘’people in the United
States.’’ Thus, recipients may generally not refuse to provide services to non-citizens,
regardless of immigration status.
239 LEP DOT Guidance
Identifying the points of contact in the program or activity where language assistance
is likely to be needed, identifying the resources that will be needed to provide effective
language assistance, identifying the location and availability of these resources, and
identifying the arrangements that should be made to access these resources in a timely
manner are important factors to ensure effective provision of services.
2. Written Language Assistance Plan
Recipients should develop and implement written language assistance plans that will
ensure meaningful opportunities for LEP persons to access their programs and activities
and effectively participate in them.
A recipient can help ensure effective communication with LEP persons by developing
and implementing a comprehensive, written language assistance plan. Such a plan should
include policies and procedures for identifying and assessing the language needs of
LEP persons, and provide for a range of written and oral language assistance options,
periodic training of staff, actual provision of services, and monitoring of the program.
DOT encourages recipients to consider the transportation needs of the LEP community
affected by the recipient’s programs and activities while developing this plan. The factor
analysis set forth in this Guidance should be the starting point for identifying areas
in which language services are needed.
DOT encourages recipients to consider one or more of the following ideas as they
develop language assistance plans:
• Assigning primary responsibility for development and implementation of the plan
to an appropriate manager or supervisor.
• Preparing a written summary of results from the needs assessment (discussed above).
• Identifying actions already being taken and existing tools that can be used to
provide meaningful access to LEP individuals, and how well they work.
• Creating an inventory of existing materials that have been translated into other
languages to assist LEP individuals.
• Regularly updating the inventory of translated materials.
• Drafting a plan that is specific and detailed, yet flexible enough to respond to
existing or potential needs over an appropriate time period (i.e., five years).
• Ensuring that translation arrangements have quality control (i.e., mechanisms are
in place to ensure that the translation accurately and appropriately conveys the
substance of what is contained in the written materials).
• Distributing the names of organizational contacts who will respond to inquiries
and requests regarding access to programs and activities by LEP individuals, in
appropriate media and publications.
• Addressing the appropriate mix of written and oral language assistance to ensure
effective communication with the LEP population. 240 LEP DOT Guidance
A plan should generally include:
• Who is responsible for each step.
• When each step is expected to be completed. (Generally speaking, the more vital
the service, the sooner it should be provided.)
• What standards and criteria are to be applied to measure the effectiveness of
each step.
• What resources will be devoted to each step.
• How the recipient will document implementation of each step.
3. Staff Training
Recipients should ensure that staff understand the recipient’s language assistance
policy and are capable of carrying it out.
The success of recipients’ LEP/Title VI activities will depend on the staff’s knowledge,
credibility, and actions. DOT encourages recipients to disseminate the recipient’s policy
to all employees likely to have contact with LEP persons and to periodically train
employees. Effective training, which includes cultural and community relations sensitization,
is one way to ensure that there is not a gap between your policies and procedures
and the actual practices of employees who interact with LEP persons. Effective training
ensures that employees are knowledgeable and aware of LEP policies and procedures,
can work effectively with in-person and telephone interpreters, and understand the
dynamics of interpretation between beneficiaries, providers and interpreters. It is
important that this training be part of the orientation for new employees and all
employees in beneficiary contact positions should be properly trained. Given the high
turnover rate among some types of employees, a recipient may find it useful to maintain
a training registry that records the names and dates of employees’ training.
4. Provision of Special Language Assistance
Recipients must actually provide necessary services to LEP persons.
Most important to any LEP plan is to actually provide the necessary services. Actual
provision of services includes notification of the availability of services. A vital part
of an effective compliance program includes having effective methods for notifying
LEP persons regarding their right to language assistance and the availability of such
assistance free of charge. These methods include but are not limited to:
• 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’’) should invite the LEP
person to identify the language he/she speaks. This identification can be recorded
in the LEP person’s file, if the recipient keeps such files on beneficiaries.
241 LEP DOT Guidance
• Posting and maintaining signs in regularly encountered non-English languages in
waiting rooms, reception areas and other initial points of entry. In order to be
effective, these signs should inform applicants and beneficiaries 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 non-English languages by competent translators. For
LEP persons whose language does not exist in written form, assistance should be
provided from an interpreter to explain the contents of the document. LEP persons
may need assistance, for example, however, in filling out forms such as those for
transit half-fare benefits or paratransit eligibility under the Americans with
Disabilities Act.
• Uniform procedures for timely and effective telephone communication between staff
and LEP persons. This should include instructions for English-speaking employees
to obtain assistance from interpreters or bilingual staff when receiving calls from
or initiating calls to LEP persons, and
• Inclusion of statements about the services available and the right to free language
assistance services, in appropriate non-English languages, in brochures, booklets,
outreach and recruitment information and other materials that are routinely
disseminated to the public.
5. Monitoring
Recipients should conduct regular oversight of their language assistance programs
to ensure that LEP persons can meaningfully access their programs and activities. It is
also important that recipients regularly monitor their language assistance programs
by assessing the following:
• Current LEP demographics of the population that is affected by the recipient’s
programs and activities.
• Current communication needs of LEP communities.
• Whether the recipient’s plan is adequately supported so that it has a realistic
chance of success.
• Whether existing assistance is meeting the needs of LEP persons.
• Whether recipient staff are knowledgeable about policies and procedures and
how to implement them.
• Whether sources of, and arrangements for, assistance are still current and viable.
• Whether the plan is periodically evaluated and revised, as necessary. Note that
recipients are required to modify their plans and programs of service if they prove
to be unsuccessful after a legitimate trial.
242 LEP DOT Guidance
• Number and type of grievances and complaints received by the recipient or against
the recipient by DOJ or DOT, alleging lack of provision of services due to limited
English proficiency.
One way to evaluate the language assistance program is to seek and obtain feedback
from the communities served. DOT believes that compliance with the Title VI language
assistance obligation is most likely met when a recipient continuously monitors its
program and makes modifications where necessary, including meeting public participation
requirements under other initiatives such as environmental justice.
VII. Ways of Providing Language Services
Once the recipient has determined that language services are needed, there are three
main ways of providing those services: oral interpretation; written translation; and
alternate, non-verbal methods. The following provides information on these three methods.
A. Oral Language Interpretation
In designing an effective language assistance program, a recipient develops procedures
for obtaining and providing trained and competent interpreters and other oral language
assistance 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 trained and competent interpreters.
• Arranging formally for the services of voluntary community interpreters who are
trained and competent in the skill of interpreting.
• Arranging/contracting for the use of a telephone language interpreter service.
Bilingual Staff—Hiring bilingual staff for beneficiary contact positions facilitates
participation by LEP persons. 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 these needs,
the recipient should provide additional and timely language assistance. Bilingual staff
should be trained and should demonstrate competence as interpreters.
Staff Interpreters—Paid staff interpreters are especially appropriate where there is
a frequent and/or regular need for interpreting services. These persons should be
competent and readily available.
Contract Interpreters—The use of contract interpreters may be an option for recipients
that have an infrequent need 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. Such contract interpreters should be readily available and competent.
243 LEP DOT Guidance
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 should ensure that formal
arrangements for interpreting services are made with community organizations so that
these organizations are not subjected to ad hoc requests for assistance. In addition,
recipients should ensure that these volunteers are competent as interpreters and
understand their obligation to maintain client confidentiality. Additional language
assistance should 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. It is important that a recipient not offer this as the only
language assistance option except where other language assistance options are unavailable
(e.g., in a rural area visited by a LEP beneficiary who speaks a language that is not
usually encountered in the area).
B. 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 (such as a cover letter outlining conditions of
participation in a paratransit program), notices pertaining to the reduction, denial or
termination of services or benefits or that require a response from beneficiaries, notices
advising LEP persons of the availability of free language assistance, and other outreach
materials be translated into the non-English language of each regularly encountered
LEP group eligible to be served or likely to be directly affected by the recipient’s
program. Materials with a ‘’gatekeeper’’ function, such as those concerning the necessity
for insurance and licensure, should be translated. Notices for the public should be
published in the primary non-English language media serving the recipient’s service area.
However, note the emphasis elsewhere in this document on exploring non-verbal/nonlanguage
based approaches to communication. Warning signs should be posted in
the languages spoken by people likely to encounter the signs.
Services such as public safety, police, and law enforcement that might result in the
diminution of personal freedom, in fines and penalties, in loss of driving privileges, or
in ‘’points’’ on driving records, are subject to a high burden on the recipient that
provides such services, in terms of timeliness and quality of translation of key documents.
244 LEP DOT Guidance
Many DOT recipients are engaged in such services—such as state departments of public
safety, state motor vehicle departments, transit and railroad police, and airport security.
More complete guidance for such special language services by law enforcement personnel
is available through the Department of Justice.
It is important to ensure that written materials routinely provided by a recipient in
English also are provided in regularly encountered languages other than English. It is
particularly important to ensure that vital documents are translated into the non-
English language of each regularly encountered LEP group eligible to be served or likely
to be affected by the recipient’s program or activity. A document will be considered vital
if it contains information that is critical for obtaining federal services and/or benefits,
or is required by law. Vital documents include, for example: applications; consent and
complaint forms; notices of rights and disciplinary action; notices advising LEP persons
of the availability of free language assistance; and written tests that do not assess
English language competency, but rather competency for a particular license, job, or
skill for which English competency is not required; and letters or notices that require
a response from the beneficiary or client. For instance, if a complaint form is necessary
in order to file a claim with an agency, that complaint form would be vital. Nonvital
information includes documents that are not critical to access such benefits and services.
Vital documents should be translated when a significant number or percentage of the
population eligible to be served, or likely to be directly affected by the program/activity,
needs services or information in a language other than English to communicate effectively.
For many larger documents, translation of vital information contained within the document
will suffice and the documents need not be translated in their entirety.
It may sometimes be difficult to draw a distinction between vital and non-vital documents,
particularly when considering outreach or other documents designed to raise awareness
of rights or services. Though meaningful access to a program requires an awareness of
the program’s existence, DOT recognizes that it would be impossible, from a practical
and costbased perspective, to translate every piece of outreach material into every
language. Title VI does not require this of recipients. Nevertheless, because in some
circumstances lack of awareness of the existence of a particular program may effectively
deny LEP individuals meaningful access, it is important to continually survey/assess
the needs of eligible service populations to determine whether certain critical outreach
materials should be translated into other languages.
DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that direct
translation of safety pamphlets and brochures that have been developed in English
into a non-English language often results in an inferior or inappropriate product due
to the many dialects and linguistic styles of foreign languages and because the materials
were not designed to originally focus on a particular dialect-speaking audience.
A better approach is to develop the materials in the language and dialect in which
245 LEP DOT Guidance
they are intended to be used. Also, involving the target community in review of the final
brochure or product can eliminate inappropriate word choice and increase the effectiveness
of the messages. Community group involvement can also provide a ready
means of distribution of the materials.
C. Use of Alternative Communication Methods and Devices:
To alleviate the concerns of recipients, and to reduce cost, DOT encourages recipients
to explore use of methods and devices that do not use language. For example, use of
pictograms, symbol signs, standard symbolic signs (SMS’s), diagrams, colorcoded warnings,
illustrations, graphics, and pictures can be considered. A major example of the use of
such methods in transportation infrastructure is the laminated plastic safety information
cards in the seat back pouches on commercial airliners. These cards communicate a great
deal of important safety information using very few words in any language. Schematic
maps can similarly quickly communicate large amounts of information without words.
Standard symbols such as are used on international roads and at the Olympics can be
used. Use of such non-verbal methods will also help alleviate problems of communication
for those who are illiterate or partially literate, those who are too young to read,
and those with hearing impairments. Use of symbol signs may help elderly drivers as
well, since signing in highway work areas raises sign legibility issues for older drivers.
It may be noted that there is overlap between older drivers and those who are more
likely to be LEP in some subpopulations, such as the Navajo. Symbol signs and pictograms
also benefit globalization of trade and travel.
Example 1. ‘’Transportation engineers world-wide are moving toward the use of symbol
signs in place of word signs because they are easier for people to comprehend in a
shorter amount of time. Easily recognized symbols also accommodate people who cannot
read English.’’ (Irvine, California, Traffic Research and Control Center (ITRAC))
Example 2. ‘’Universal design considerations also offer the potential to benefit persons
with a cognitive disability. For example, standardized symbols, pictures, and color coding
offer benefits to persons with a cognitive disability. If written information is provided,
the messages should be short and clear. Repetition of symbols and information also
helps reduce the difficulty of remembering information.’’ (Transport Canada, ‘’Technologies
for travelers with sensory or cognitive disabilities (TP 13247E)’’)
A Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) study reached these conclusions about
symbol signs:
Minimize symbol complexity by using very few details.
Maximize the distance between symbol sign elements.
Use representational rather than abstract symbols.
Use solid rather than outline figures for designs.
246 LEP DOT Guidance
Standardize the design of arrowheads, human figures, and vehicles. Retain maximum
contrast between the symbol and the sign background.
Use of pictograms in dynamic signs can be considered. These are in use in Europe.
Regulatory speed limit messages are presented using a number in a red circle, which
is analogous to the European static speed limit sign. Other symbol messages presented
to drivers in dynamic message signs include congestion, snow, and diversion (detour)
directions. Research is underway to develop additional symbols for inclusion in the
European standards for traffic control devices. Two specific conditions for which symbols
are being explored are ‘’fog’’ and ‘’accident.’’
Example: NHTSA, 49 CFR Parts 571 and 575, Consumer Information Regulations:
Utility Vehicle Label; Final Rule, Federal Register, March 9, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 45)
‘’The rule requires the label’s header to have an alert symbol (a triangle containing
an exclamation point) followed by the statement ‘’WARNING: Higher Rollover Risk’’
in black text on a yellow background. The following three statements must appear
below the header in the center of the label: ‘’Avoid Abrupt Maneuvers and Excessive
Speed,’’ ‘’Always Buckle Up,’’ and ‘’See Owner’s Manual For Further Information.’’
The rule specifies that the label must contain two pictograms: one showing a tilting
utility vehicle on the left of the label, and the other showing a seated vehicle occupant
with a secured three-point belt system on the right. The pictograms and the statement
must be in black on a white background.’’ The label was revised from 77 words
to 19 words and two pictograms. Permission was granted to companies to produce
the label with both the required English words and a translation into other languages.
Labels have been produced with French and Spanish translations.
There are opportunities for higher technology approaches, such as use of multimedia
pictograms, holograms, photographs, looped videotapes, embedded picture instructions
to represent destinations and instructions, information kiosks with multiple languages,
courtesy telephones at stations linked to a central number with translators, and voice
VIII. Application of this Guidance for DOT Recipients
Grievance or Complaint Procedures
Generally, a recipient should maintain a written and publicly known grievance or
complaint procedure available to members of the public, so that LEP persons can
bring alleged problems with lack of services to the recipient’s attention for resolution.
DOT encourages recipients to resolve such problems at the lowest level possible and
encourages use of alternate dispute resolution. Grievance and complaint procedures
should be prompt and equitable while obeying generally accepted elements of due process.
However, they need not be overly formal. Existing grievance or complaint procedures
can be used if they are modified as necessary to clarify their availability for use with
LEP disputes and are made available in languages used in the community service area.
247 LEP DOT Guidance
LEP Community Outreach and Education
It may be useful for the recipient to have an established, formal linkage between a
minority community-based organization and a transportation provider or infrastructure
entity. The linkage can be confirmed by a signed agreement between the applicant
and linkage organizations which specifies in detail the roles and resources that each
entity will bring to the project, and states the duration and terms of the linkage. The
document can be signed by an individual with the authority to represent the communitybased
organization (e.g., president, chief executive officer, executive director).
Comprehensive outreach includes the following:
• Use of ethnic media, such as radio, television, newspapers, magazines and websites.
• Use of faith-based organizations, such as temples, mosques and churches.
• Work with community-based organizations at the local (city or county) level that
provide social services, health care, classes, etc. to target LEP communities.
• Outreach to schools with substantial enrollments of LEP children.
• Ensure that translated materials provide referrals to telephone numbers or websites
that are linguistically accessible (i.e., a flyer in Vietnamese should refer the caller
to a hotline with Vietnamese-speaking workers).
• Nontraditional channels, such as day care centers and Headstart programs.
• Forming community groups led by a trained lay educator (a promotore or promotora)
to enable adults to discuss issues and learn from each other. The content of
community outreach is important. For example, DOT has been told by a coalition
of Southeast Asian-American advocacy groups that many people in their communities
lack basic information about transportation services. The information needs include
safety and security information, such as what may not be carried on airplanes and
questions that will be asked at the ticket counter. Knowledge about public participation
opportunities in transportation planning is needed. This area should especially be
addressed by metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs).
DOT encourages partnerships among federal recipients and other human services
organizations. How these can work is shown in the following example. ‘’Expand existing
loan programs that assist welfare recipients in purchasing cars and increase accessibility
to public transportation. Counties should expand existing programs or create new
programs that lend money to welfare recipients and other low-income families to purchase
cars. Counties should also explore savings accounts that enable recipients to save for
purchasing their own cars, without jeopardizing their financial eligibility for welfare
cash aid. ERA also recommends that counties partner with transportation agencies
to translate transportation information and resources into other languages.’’ (Equal
Rights Advocates [ERA’s] Immigrant Women and Welfare study)
248 LEP DOT Guidance
Transportation Planning
Recipients’ transportation plans should identify how the needs of LEP persons will be
met where a significant number of such persons can be reasonably expected to need
transportation services.
Numerical Thresholds
DOT has determined that it will not specify numerical or percentage thresholds for LEP
populations that need to be served by recipients. Generally, the larger the number
or percent of LEP beneficiaries within a recipient’s service area who speak a particular
primary or home language, the more thorough, intensive, and speedy the special language
services should be. The extent of the service area will in part determine the number or
percent of the covered population. For example, the service area of state departments
of transportation will generally be considered to be the entire state. The service area
of a metropolitan planning organization will be the geographic area for which the MPO
provides surface transportation planning services. International airports serve a very
broad geographical area, and may be presented with special problems in dealing with
a large number of languages. Such difficulties will be taken into consideration by DOT,
but it is expected that such transportation providers will know a great deal of demographic
information about their users. Similar reasoning applies to national networks like AMTRAK.
Note that the population includes those who may potentially be served by the recipient,
rather than just those who are presently being served. This is to reach those who are
not presently receiving adequate or equitable services from the recipient, but might
receive such services if the recipient were to provide special language services to them.
DOT recommends that recipients become aware of the changing demographics of their
service areas, especially in terms of increasing numbers and percents of languages used,
so that recipients can prepare for future service needs.
Emergency Services
DOT funds a number of first responder, emergency, public safety, and hazardous materials
services. Because of the safety and health aspects of these services, the need for special
language services delivered without noticeable delay by recipients are heightened.
Workers in these areas render vitally important services whose very nature requires
quick action to protect public safety and health; quick assessment of a situation, often
based on input from community members on the spot; the establishment of a close
relationship with the client or patient that is based on empathy, confidence and mutual
trust; and direction to affected people that must be carried out with specificity to be
effective. Such relationships depend heavily on the free flow of communication between
professional and client. This essential exchange of information is difficult when the two
parties involved speak different languages; it may be impeded further by the presence
of an unqualified third person who attempts to serve as an interpreter.
Some safety, emergency, and hazardous materials service providers have sought to
bridge the language gap by encouraging LEP clients to provide their own interpreters
249 LEP DOT Guidance
as an alternative to the agency’s hiring of qualified bilingual employees or interpreters.
Persons of limited English proficiency must sometimes rely on their minor children to
interpret for them during safety incidents. Alternatively, these beneficiaries/clients
may be required to call upon neighbors or even strangers they encounter at the site
of the incident to act as interpreters or translators.
These practices have severe drawbacks and may violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act
of 1964. In each case, the impediments to effective communication and adequate service
are formidable. The beneficiary’s untrained ‘’interpreter’’ is often unable to understand
the concepts or official terminology he or she 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 emergency information to the provider.
When these types of circumstances are encountered, the level and quality of safety and
emergency services available to LEP persons stand in stark conflict to Title VI’s promise
of equal access to federally assisted programs and activities. Services denied, delayed
or provided under adverse circumstances have serious and sometimes life threatening
consequences for a LEP person and may constitute discrimination on the basis of national
origin, in violation of Title VI. Accommodation of these language differences through
the provision of effective language assistance will promote compliance with Title VI.
Signage along highways presents a very difficult LEP topic, due to the large number
of signs, the cost of changing them, and limitations on space on the sign. Nevertheless,
at least one state department of transportation has reported that some LEP persons
may not have the ability to read variable message signs that alert them to dangerous
driving conditions. Due to the lifesaving potential, and subject to technical and scientific
study as to its viability regarding message length and time, DOT recommends that
recipients explore the possibility of either using pictorial or symbol messages or
translating messages into frequently encountered languages on variable message signs
that report dangerous driving conditions.
Regarding multilingual signage, a county long range transportation plan has noted,
‘’Intermodal multilingual referrals and advertising of customer services should be developed.
This can include visual, auditive, and print information on how to use the various modes.
Appropriate multilingual signage for modes (e.g., bus stops, mode shares, etc.) could
be developed and implemented with international symbol signs. Buses could include
next stop digital displays inside the bus and/or tone auditory cues for the visually
impaired.’’ (Bernalillo County, New Mexico, Long Range Transportation Plan, 1993) As
discussed elsewhere in this Guidance, non-verbal methods can be considered, such as
reducing the amount of text (e.g. ‘’Glover Park,’’ ‘’Massachusetts Avenue,’’ ‘’Addison
Road’’, etc.) and replacing it with numbers, letters, or colors (e.g. D2, L6,Blue Line).
250 LEP DOT Guidance
Recipients should be sensitive to literacy levels of LEP consumers and clients. Some
immigrants and refugees come from pre-literate societies and are not literate in their
native language, let alone English, or are not literate for other reasons. However, note
that literacy is not covered by Title VI. It makes good sense to consider literacy issues
when covering LEP issues, because in some cases, the solutions are the same. See the
discussion above about using symbol signs, pictograms, and illustrations. Other solutions
include the following:
• Contract and work with community-based organizations to review translated
materials for appropriateness of language.
• Use focus groups to test messages and language appropriateness, especially if
documents are being translated for the first time.
• Be aware that written translations may not be effective for some communities but
that there are alternative mechanisms such as the use of audio or video tapes to
provide information.
How does low literacy, non-literacy, use of non-written languages, blindness and deafness
among LEP populations affect the responsibilities of recipients? Effective communication
in any language requires an understanding of the literacy levels of the eligible populations.
Where a LEP person has a limited understanding of important matters or cannot read,
access to the program is complicated by factors not directly related to language. Under
these circumstances, a recipient should provide transportation and related services
information to the same extent that it would provide such information to English-speakers.
Similarly, a recipient should assist LEP individuals who cannot read in understanding
written materials as it would non-literate English-speakers. A non-written language precludes
the translation of documents, but does not affect the responsibility of the recipient
to communicate the vital information contained in the document or to provide notice
of the availability of oral translation according to the size of that language group.
Special Language Services Should be Locally Focused
Language issues are sometimes local issues, due to matters of usage, dialect, and local
preference. Recipient programs of special language services should be designed carefully
to accommodate local usage and should be field tested with different local language
populations to make appropriate corrections to ensure effective communication. Materials
in both English and the primary or home language are generally preferred by non-
English speaking groups, but use of English only may sometimes be more appropriate,
especially if preferred by the community being served. To account for differences in
literacy levels and to make materials more attractive, interesting and likely to be used,
the use of photographs and illustrations is recommended. The keys are effectiveness,
usability, and transmission of information.
251 LEP DOT Guidance
Charging for Special Language Services
Recipients should not impose a charge or a fee for special language services to LEP persons.
Separation for Purposes of Provision of Special Language Services
There may be times when it is most efficient for the recipient to provide special language
services separately to people who speak a particular non-English language. However,
the program design should not separate these beneficiaries beyond the extent necessary
to achieve the goals of the recipient’s program of services. Methods that do not segregate
should be used whenever possible.
Puerto Rico
Much of Puerto Rico’s official business is conducted in Spanish. Therefore, recipients
located in Puerto Rico or doing business there should, wherever possible, translate
documents into Spanish.
Low-Frequency and Unusual or Unexpected Languages
When an individual with limited English skills—who does not speak a language spoken
by a ‘’significant number or proportion of the population’’—seeks services or information
from the recipient, the recipient should then make reasonable efforts to meet the
particularized needs of that individual. Such efforts may include, but are not limited
to, using a telephone language line, locating and temporarily employing a qualified
interpreter who can communicate in the appropriate language. As technology advances,
various options for complying with the requirements of this section, such as computerized
and/or on-line translation services, are becoming increasingly available to recipients,
and the cost of these options is decreasing.
An Asian-Pacific Islander health care advocacy group commented in this way on how
transportation can present a barrier to health care for those who speak an unusual
language for their location: ‘’Removal of barriers such as transportation: It is important
to ensure that there are systems established to address barriers such as transportation
and portability in order to ensure that geographic location does not prevent patients
from accessing care. [Medical Care Organizations] need to ensure that coverage for
enabling transportation is included in the benefits package. Medicaid enrollees often
need to access services in other counties. This is particularly important for patients
in rural communities, for migrants and for limited English speaking populations. Limited
English speaking persons may need to travel a great distance to see a provider who
speaks their language.’’ (‘’Making Managed Care Work for Asian & Pacific Islanders:
An Action Agenda for APIA Communities,’’ Dong Suh, MPP, Policy Analyst, (415) 954-9966,
(415) 954-9999 (fax) or e-mail:
252 LEP DOT Guidance
Customer and service surveys by recipients and their contractors, including ones conducted
by telephone, should include the ability to obtain information from LEP households
and individuals. Given the large number and percent of LEP individuals in the U.S.,
a general survey would not be regarded as complete without the participation of
people who are LEP. For example, NHTSA’s semi-annual Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety
Survey identified areas of seat belt and car seat safety where people of Hispanic origin
differ from the non-Hispanic population. In the 1998 survey, 44% of Hispanic respondents
strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement ‘’I would feel self-conscious around
my friends if I wore a seat belt and they did not,’’ as opposed to just 15% of non-Hispanics.
This information was used to tailor public information and education to the needs
and attitudes of the targeted audience.
IX. Promising Practices/Best Practices
The following examples are provided as illustrations of the responses of some recipients
to the need to provide services to LEP persons. Although interesting and useful, their
listing here does not constitute endorsement by DOT, which will evaluate recipients’
situations on a case-by-case basis using the factors described elsewhere in this Guidance.
Language Banks—In several parts of the country, both urban and rural, community
organizations and providers have created community language banks that train, hire
and dispatch competent interpreters to participating organizations, 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—A state social services agency has established an ‘’Office
for Language Interpreter Services and Translation.’’ This office tests and certifies all
in-house and contract interpreters, provides agency-wide support for translation of
forms, client mailings, publications and other written materials into non-English languages,
and monitors the policies of the agency and its vendors that affect LEP persons.
Multicultural Delivery Project—Another county agency has established a ‘’Multicultural
Delivery Project’’ that is designed to help immigrants and other LEP persons find someone
who speaks their language and who can help them navigate the county health and social
service systems. The project uses community outreach workers to work with LEP clients
and can be used by employees in solving cultural and language issues. A multicultural
advisory committee helps to keep the county in touch with community needs.
Use of Technology—Some recipients use their Internet and/or intranet capabilities
to store translated documents online. These documents can be retrieved as needed. 253 LEP DOT Guidance
Telephone Information Lines and Hotlines—Recipients have established telephone
information lines in languages spoken by frequently encountered language groups
to instruct callers, in the non-English languages, on how to leave a recorded message
that will be answered by someone who speaks the caller’s language. For example, NHTSA’s
Auto Safety hotline has four representatives who speak Spanish and are available during
normal hotline business hours (8 a.m.-10 p.m. Eastern Time). The evening hours permit
people from the West Coast (where a significant number of LEP persons reside) to call
after work. The automated voice response system has an option for instructions in
Spanish. Calls from Spanish-speaking customers are placed in a Spanish-speaking cue
which has priority for those four operators who speak Spanish.
Signage and Other Outreach—Other recipients have provided 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;
(d) establishing information lines in appropriate languages; and
(e) using posters with appropriate languages designed to reach potential beneficiaries.
DOT’s Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), at 49 CFR 192.616 and 195.440,
requires ‘’Each [pipeline] operator [to] establish a continuing educational program
to enable customers, the public, appropriate government organizations, and persons
engaged in excavation related activities to recognize a gas pipeline emergency for
the purpose of reporting it to the operator or the appropriate public officials. The
program and the media used should be as comprehensive as necessary to reach all
areas in which the operator transports gas. The program must be conducted in English
and in other languages commonly understood by a significant number and concentration
of the non-English speaking population in the operator’s area.’’ We recommend such
an approach to recipients to meet their individual service provision needs.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Office in New Jersey coordinates several programs for
the Hispanic community. In Essex County, a bilingual counselor provides community
education on safety issues.
Proyecto AASUL (Assistance with Alcohol and Sobriety Uniting Latinas/Ayuda con Alcohol
y Sobriedad Uniendo Latinas), funded by the California Department of Transportation,
was developed to educate Hispanic women in Southern California about alcohol abuse
254 LEP DOT Guidance
and related problems. Information and services included a brochure listing alcoholrelated
service providers with Spanish speaking staff and a fotonovela focusing on
the problems of alcoholism in a family setting. A fotonovela is an extensively illustrated
booklet that tells a human-interest story.
The El Protector program has been implemented in Del Rio, Texas. The Del Rio Police
Department has developed radio spots in Spanish, about traffic safety issues such as
putting people in the back of pickup trucks, loading and unloading school buses, drinking
and driving, and pedestrian safety.
EMS staff in Los Angeles reported that their system is equipped to receive calls in 86
languages, although Spanish is the most frequent language used by 911 callers who do
not speak English.
The Michigan DOT has produced a Title VI poster and brochure in English and Spanish.
It’s public hearings officer speaks English and Spanish. One Michigan metropolitan planning
organization (MPO) translated its I-496 community involvement materials into Spanish.
The New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has administered drivers license
tests in more than 14 languages for at least 10 years, including French, Greek, Korean,
Portuguese, and Turkish. Other states conduct such tests in other languages. For example,
Oregon DOT is in the process of having its tests translated into Japanese and Vietnamese.
USDOT recommends that state agencies share such information, to avoid the necessity
of each doing every translation.
The New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department has, with FHWA support,
provided Spanish language translations of its Right-of-Way Acquisition and Relocation
Brochures. The State also employs bilingual right-of-way agents capable of discussing
project impacts in Spanish.
Oregon’s DMV website provides online access to English and Spanish versions of its
Driver Manual. It has also contracted with a local government to provide additional
classes to Hispanic drivers on ‘’rules of the road’’ after they gain their driver’s licenses.
The State of Oregon is developing a report on multilingual services provided by State
agencies. The final document will be used by State agencies to enhance their existing
programs, including expanding communication efforts to serve and protect all Oregonians.
On the NHTSA web site, the Traffic Safety Materials Catalog page has an option to
permit a search for materials for an Asian-American or Hispanic audience. This search
will result in several publications that are available in Spanish or Chinese.
In Puerto Rico, LEP needs have been addressed by providing all government services,
programs and activities in Spanish.
255 LEP DOT Guidance
Tennessee DOT recipients in a geographical area where there is a significant (above 5%)
population that usually speak a language other than English, must translate and post
notices and other correspondence advising persons that their right to participate in
any programs or activities receiving federal funding cannot be denied on the basis of
nation origin.
Texas DOT has in the past provided forms in Spanish to assist LEP persons in filling out
forms to request certified copies of vehicle titles. TxDOT also utilizes bilingual employees
in its permit office to provide instruction and assistance to Hispanic truck drivers when
providing permits to route overweight trucks through Texas. In the on the Job Training
Supportive Services Program, Spanish language television has been used to get the
information of the opportunities in the construction industry to people who have
difficulty reading English.
Virginia DOT became aware that several Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) firms
were about to be removed from construction projects in Northern Virginia because
projects required certified concrete inspectors, and the DBE firms were having trouble
complying because the concrete inspection test was only offered in English. VDOT used
supportive services funding to have the training manual and test material translated
into Spanish, and provided tutoring for the DBE firms. The Virginia State Police (VSP)
maintain a written list of interpreters available statewide to troopers through the Red
Cross Language Bank, as well as universities and local police departments. The VSP carry
cards with Miranda rights set forth in several different languages.
The Colorado State Patrol has produced safety brochures in Spanish for farmer and
ranchers. It has also printed brochures in Spanish pertaining to regulatory requirements
for trucking firms.
In 1996, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) was faced with the relocation
of 14 Spanish-speaking families who were living in a trailer park in north Alabama. The
State determined that most of the residents met the length of occupancy requirements
for rental relocation housing payments. Through a right-of-way consultant who was under
contract with ALDOT, an interpreter was hired from the University of Alabama—Birmingham
to assist the relocation agent in explaining Uniform Relocation Act entitlements to
the heads of families. The interpreter was on call throughout the relocation process
to accompany the relocation agent whenever it was necessary to contact the displacees.
The families were successfully relocated to Department of Social Services replacement
housing. Several families moved into surplus Federal Emergency Management Agency
mobile homes that were made available through a private buyer who gave the displacees
the option of renting or entering into a purchase agreement.
256 LEP DOT Guidance
Minnesota DOT (MnDOT) authored a manual entitled ‘’Public Involvement Procedures
For Planning and Project Development’’ that details Mn/DOT requirements to provide
access to all residents of Minnesota under environmental justice standards. The manual
takes a proactive approach to public involvement. It includes such things as publishing
notices in non-English newspapers, printing notices in appropriate languages and providing
translators at public meetings. Mn/ DOT’s Office of EEO Contract Management provides
a Spanish language version of a brochure entitled ‘’Mn/DOT Construction Contracts:
Labor Provisions for Contractor Employees’’ to construction employees during reviews
and upon request to Contractors for employee distribution. This pamphlet provides
general guidelines to labor laws and Mn/DOT contract labor provisions. Mn/DOT’s
Office of EEO Contract Management is on call to provide Spanish language translation
at Mn/DOT’s Information Desk. In addition, telephone numbers are provided to persons
who wish to speak directly to Spanish-speaking EEO Office employees.
Mn/DOT’s Office of EEO Contract Management provides Spanish language translations
in both written communications and oral interviews for labor investigations. In addition,
the EEO Office provided written materials in Spanish for explanation of processes and
procedures for such investigations.
Wisconsin DOT created a Motorist Study Manual Easy reader (3rd grade level, translated
by the Janesville Literacy Council) version in English. It is creating one in Spanish and
is considering Hmong. There are regular versions (6th grade level) in English, Spanish
and Hmong. There is a Motorcycle Study Manual in English and Spanish, and a CDL
(Commercial Drivers License) Study Manual in English and Spanish. Knowledge and Highway
Sign Tests are provided in 13 languages besides English. Some languages have been
available since the late 1970s. Bids are being prepared to update the bank of questions
in non-English languages based on demand. Knowledge and Highway Sign Tests are
provided via various audio means ranging from cassette tapes in English and Spanish
to allowing bilingual translators to verbally present the questions in non-English languages
based on demand. A pilot to evaluate automated knowledge test systems is underway
at three DMV Service Centers. The pilot includes tests in English, Spanish, and on
audiotape. These automated knowledge test systems allow testing in many languages.
The Division of State Patrol is using a compact disk with commonly used phrases and
sayings in languages other than English that is printable to a paper card, which then
contains the phrase in an appropriate language for the LEP person who is interacting
with the officer. The officer points to the appropriate column on the card. WIDOT also
keeps a roster of employees who speak, read, or write non-English languages.
In Indiana, 15 Commercial Drivers License branches offer the CDL knowledge test orally,
in a true/false format.
257 LEP DOT Guidance
The Zuni Entrepreneurial Enterprises Inc. (ZEE) Public Transportation Program was
designed to develop, implement, and maintain a transportation system that provides
needed linkages for Native Americans and other traditionally unserved/ underserved
persons in the service area to access needed vocational training and employment
opportunities in order to enhance both the quality of life and the attainment and
perpetuation of meaningful employment. The trip purposes served by the Zuni JOBLINKS
project included education, employment, and job training. ZEE provided transportation
of students to the University of New Mexico at Gallup, transportation of employees
to their existing jobs in Gallup, as well as transportation for individuals requiring
vocational rehabilitation and job training within the Pueblo of Zuni. The Project Director
also took a number of steps to market the JOBLINKS service. He coordinated the broadcast
of a radio spot on a local radio station in English and Zuni.
Seattle’s Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail to the Rainier Valley in south Seattle is an example
of best practices. Demographically, the Rainier Valley is home to a high percentage
of immigrant, refugee, low income, and disadvantaged Seattle residents. In addition
to providing direct service benefits, Sound Transit has also provided the community
with information they need to access the service in the appropriate languages. This
has taken the form of translated brochures, outreach staff skilled in interpretation,
and multilanguage phone lines. etc.
The Washington, DC area’s Metro transit system (WMATA) publishes pocket guides to
the system in French, Spanish, German, and Japanese.
The following example, although it is focused on people who are deaf, is applicable to
people who are LEP. Portland’s Tri-Met transit system had a growing concern that access
needs of people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing have not been fully addressed, due
to more immediate ADA priorities such as putting lifts on buses and implementing
paratransit plans. They contacted the Oregon Deaf Resources Center (ODRC) to discuss
problems and issues and examine how to make public transportation more accessible
to this segment of the disability community. One of the first things Tri-Met learned was
that the main barrier in fixed-route travel for people who are deaf is difficulty in getting
bus drivers to understand questions and provide information. In fact, people in Portland’s
deaf community reported that they seldom receive accurate, informative communication
from transit drivers. The idea developed was to produce a set of pictograms that illustrate
situations that typically arise during fixed-route travel, particularly those that are
difficult to verbally communicate to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The pictograms
would be laminated and attached to the bus close to the driver to be readily available
when needed. As with many improvements in accessibility, it is expected that enhanced
communication capability will not only benefit people with hearing impairments, but
will also improve communication with other passengers with disabilities, such as those
who have cognitive impairments. Tri-Met submitted a proposal to Project ACTION and
258 LEP DOT Guidance
received funding to develop a standardized picture language for communicating various
situations that can occur during fixed-route travel. Suggestions for the type of information
to be included in the pictograms were solicited by from deaf communities across the
country. The project also includes developing a transit personnel training video, created
and produced by people who are deaf, to educate transit drivers about deaf culture.
Another project product is an information booklet that illustrates the pictograms
and hand signals.
In 1980 when Souris Basin Transportation in North Dakota first started, the illiteracy
rate was high among the senior population in their area of operation. To help them
identify the bus on which they were riding, SBT started using visual logos on the sides
of the vehicles. They have now found that the illiteracy rate has dropped among the
seniors, but the LEP population has grown. Therefore, SBT kept the logos on the vehicles.
SBT has also added volunteers who speak languages other than English, such as Spanish,
German, Norwegian, Swedish and French. These volunteers are only a phone call away
from the drivers or staff that need help. Most of the volunteers are at the Minot State
University Language Department.
Florida conducts CDL tests in any language needed, and provides interpreters if needed.
Out of service warnings for trucks are issued in Spanish and English.
The Iowa Department of Transportation provides a Spanish version of the CDL knowledge
test, using a touch screen computer. In addition, they have worked with Refugee Services
of Des Moines, and with a local community college in educating Bosnian refugees to take
the Commercial Motor Vehicle driving course. DOT especially recommends the idea of
working with local community colleges to educate the LEP community in transportation
Sample Notice of Availability of Materials and Services
‘’FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For hearing impaired individuals or non-English
speaking attendees wishing to arrange for a sign language or foreign language interpreter,
please call or fax [name] of [organization] at Phone: xxx-yyy-zzzz or Fax: xxx-yyy-zzzz.’’
If there is a known and substantial LEP population which may be served by the program
discussed in the notice, the notice should be in the appropriate non-English language.
U.S. Department of Justice, General LEP Guidance, August 2000.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Limited English Proficiency Guidance.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ‘’Cultural Competence.’’
259 LEP DOT Guidance
Environmental Protection Agency, ‘’Draft Translation and Interpretation Protocol for
Promoting Access to EPA Programs, Services, and Information by Persons With Limited
English Proficiency.’’
Glossary of Transportation Terms, English-Spanish, 1994, Federal Highway Administration.
North American Emergency Response Guidebook (NAERG96), published jointly by the
U.S. Department of Transportation, Transport Canada (TC), and the Secretariat of
Communications and Transportation of Mexico, in English, French and Spanish.
National Directory of Asian Pacific American Organizations, 1999-2000, Organization
of Chinese Americans, available through Philip Morris Management Corporation,
120 Park Av., NY, NY 10017.
Southeast Asian American Mutual Assistance Association Directory, 2000, Southeast
Asia Resource Action Center, 1628 16th St., NW., Washington, DC 20009, 202-667-4690,
Red Cross Language Bank.
‘’Highway Safety Needs of U.S. Hispanic Communities: Issues and Strategies,’’ NHTSA,
September 1995, DOT HS 808 373.
Since 1995, individual border States Division Offices of the Department’s Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Administration (formerly the FHWA Office of Motor Carriers) have translated
a number of documents into Spanish to be used to educate Mexican carriers and drivers
operating in the commercial zones. These subjects covered include meaning of out-ofservice
orders, minimum requirements to operate in the U.S., one page pamphlet that
explains the U.S. certification program, one page bulletins on various Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Regulations, how to obtain an U.S. DOT vehicle identification number,
and state specific safety regulations. The following brochures/guidance have been
translated into Spanish and are currently distributed at the border or are being reviewed
for possible distribution at the U.S. Southern border:
• FMCSRs—Drivers Guide to the FMCSRs (JJ Keller Publication).
• Drug and Alcohol Regulations (JJ Keller Publication).
• HM Basic Awareness Training Course (CD FMCSA Publication).
• MX Program Pamphlet (FMCSA Publication) [Currently Distributed]
• Road User Guide for North America (FHWA Publication) [Currently Distributed in
English, Spanish, and French]
260 LEP DOT Guidance
• Awake At the Wheel (FMCSA Publication) [Currently Distributed] Materials developed
for international use, such as those developed by FMCSA’s ITS/CVO Technology
Division for use with border partners Canada and Mexico. These include its pocket
brochure in English, Spanish, and French. It is also developing Spanish video scripts.
The Canadian Council of Motor Vehicle Administrators is developing a trilingual chart
for conducting roadside commercial vehicle inspection.
‘’La Seguridad de los Materiales Peligrosos,’’ (The Safety of Dangerous Materials), RSPA, DOT.
The International Pictograms Standard, 414 SE Grand Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97214
USA, (503) 234-1400. ‘’Making conneXions for the Transit Customer,’’ Breaking down
illiteracy and other barriers to transit travel. A multi-media computer software program
to help people with barriers to literacy become independent transit riders. The software
program includes photos, video and voice narration to help clients learn how to best
use public transit. Clients use the program at their learning level and pace, on their
own, or with the help of a facilitator.
Data Sources
• Census
• Public Schools
• Community-based organizations
• Advocacy and special interest groups
• Indian tribes
• Immigrant aid organizations
• Welfare to Work organizations
• Job Access service providers
• State Migrant Coordinators
• State Refugee Coordinators
• Local refugee services organizations
• National, regional, and local ethnic advocacy organizations
• Unions that represent farmworkers, service workers, and entry level jobholders
• Legal services organizations
• Staff of elected officials in areas with substantial national origin minority communities
• National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) related demographic studies
• Hispanic Data Handbook
261 LEP DOT Guidance
• National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education
• Center for Applied Linguistics,
• Hispanic Ministry of Catholic Dioceses, Catholic Social Services, Episcopal Bishop’s
Fund, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and other faith-based entities that serve
LEP people
• Language, Demographics and Population Studies Departments at local universities
• Commercial marketing data
• Minority marketing firms
Appendix A to DOT Guidance
DOT’s Title VI regulation (49 CFR Part 21) states the following, in part:
§ 21.5 Discrimination prohibited.
(a) General. 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
otherwise subjected to discrimination under, any program to which this part applies.
(b) Specific discriminatory actions prohibited:
(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 a person any service, financial aid, or other benefit provided under
the program;
(ii) Provide any service, financial aid, or other benefit to a person which is
different, or is provided in a different manner, from that provided to others
under the program;
(iii) Subject a person to segregation or separate treatment in any matter related
to his receipt of any service, financial aid, or other benefit under the
(iv) Restrict a person in any way in the enjoyment of any advantage or privilege
enjoyed by others receiving any service, financial aid, or other benefit
under the program;
(vi) Deny a person an opportunity to participate in the program through the
provision of services or otherwise or afford him an opportunity to do so
which is different from that afforded others under the program; or
(vii) Deny a person the opportunity to participate as a member of a planning,
advisory, or similar body which is an integral part of the program.
262 LEP DOT Guidance
(2) A recipient, in determining the types of services, financial aid, or other benefits,
or facilities which will be provided under any such program, or the class of person
to whom, or the situations in which, such services, financial aid, other benefits,
or facilities will be provided under any such program, or the class of persons
to be afforded an opportunity to participate in any such program; may not,
directly or through contractual or other arrangements, utilize criteria or methods
of administration which have the effect of subjecting persons 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.
(5) The enumeration of specific forms of prohibited discrimination in this paragraph
does not limit the generality of the prohibition in paragraph (a) of this section.
(7) This part does not prohibit the consideration of race, color, or national origin
if the purpose and effect are to remove or overcome the consequences of practices
or impediments which have restricted the availability of, or participation in,
the program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance, on the grounds
of race, color, or national origin.
[FR Doc. 01-1745 Filed 1-19-01; 8:45 am]



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