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NLADA 2008: Language Access and Technology�: Reaching Limited English Proficient Clients with Technology Resources

Nov 21, 2014



Presenters: Liz Keith, Pro Bono Net, Tillie Lacayo, Legal Services Corporation, Leah Margulies, / City Bar Justice Center, Michael Mule, Empire Justice Center

This session discussed strategies for ensuring that LEP clients have meaningful access to content on program websites, reviewed best practices for statewide legal aid sites to provide legal information and referral materials in multiple languages, and discussed how to provide LEP individuals information about obtaining language assistance services and access to justice at the courthouse, in administrative meetings and in other legal forums.

  • 1. Language Access and Technology Reaching Limited English Proficient Clients with Technology Resources 2008 NLADA Conference Liz Keith, Pro Bono Net Tillie Lacayo, Legal Services Corporation Leah Margulies, / City Bar Justice Center Michael Mule, Empire Justice Center

2. Goals

  • How can technology and statewide websites help create a language access-oriented delivery system?
  • How can technology assist self-represented LEP users in pursuing and obtaining their language access rights?
  • What are considerations for reaching LEP users with technology resources?

3. Road Map

  • LEP 101 / Title VI overview
  • LEP Technology in Legal Aid
  • Spotlight on
  • Considerations for Reaching LEP Communities with Technology

4. Percentage of People 5 Years and Over Who Speak English Less Than 'Very Well': 2006 United States:Estimate: 8.7 Percent, Margin of Error: +/-0.1 PercentSource: U.S. Census Bureau, 2006 American Community Survey 5. Strong correlation between LEP rates and poverty

  • Two-thirds of LEP childrens incomes are below the free and reduced price school lunch threshold
  • California
    • 19.4% of persons who speak Spanish at home live in poverty
  • Los Angeles county
    • Cambodians: 56% LEP, 40% poverty
    • Hmong: 61% LEP, 53% poverty
  • Overall California: 20% LEP, 14% poverty
  • Sources:
  • The Urban Institute,The New Demography of Americas Schools
  • Asian Pacific American Legal Center,Expanding Legal Services: Serving Limited English Proficient Asians and Pacific Islanders

6. How can technology help?

  • Assessing LEP needs
  • Designing user-centered services
  • Delivering and expanding language access services
  • Providing crucial resources to LEP community
    • Substantive legal information
    • Information about the legal system and language access rights
  • Other ways?


  • LEP 101 and Title VI Overview
  • Michael Mule
  • Empire Justice Center

8. Language Access Terms

  • Language access-refers to the rights of Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals to receive meaningful access to federally funded programs, benefits, and services
  • LEP-individuals who do not speak English as their primary language and have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English
  • Meaningful Access-language assistance that results in accurate, timely, and effective communication at no cost to the LEP individual

9. Legal Framework

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.42 U.S.C. 2000d
  • National Origin Discrimination-discrimination against an individual because of the language they speak or their ancestry.Lau v. Nichols (1974)

10. Title VI Regulations

  • DOJ Title VI Implementing Regulations
  • A recipientmay not, directly or through contractual or other arrangements, utilize criteria or methods of administration which have the effect of subjecting individuals to discrimination because of theirnational origin.28 C.F.R. 42.104(b)(2)
  • Where a significant number or proportion of the population needs service or information in a language other than English in order effectively to be informed of or to participate in the program, the recipient shall take reasonable stepsto provide information in appropriate languages to such persons.28 C.F.R. 42.405(d)(1)

11. EO 13166 and DOJ Guidance

  • Executive Order 13166 (2000)
    • Prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating based on national origin by, among other things, failing to provide meaningful access to LEP individuals
    • Department of Justice (DOJ) was given the authority to provide federal agencies guidance on these obligations
  • DOJ Guidance
    • A model for other Federal agencies to draft for recipients of Federal funding (recipients)
    • Described the language service obligations of recipients
    • Revised in 2002

12. Four Factor Test

  • To determine meaningful access, the DOJ Guidance uses a four-factor analysis:
      • The Number or Proportion of LEP Individuals
      • Frequency of Contact with the Program
      • Nature and Importance of the Program
      • Resources Available


  • LEP and Technology in Legal Aid
  • Tillie Lacayo
  • Legal Services Corporation

14. LEP Concepts

  • Technologies that enhance legal services access
  • for limited English proficient populations
  • Radio
    • PSAs
    • Taped Q & A Programs
    • Live interviews
  • T.V. same as radio, to the extent economically feasible
  • Internet
    • Websites, statewide legal services websites, program websites, LawHelp websites, etc.
    • Other:YouTube (videos), etc.

15. LSC Requirements and LSC Program Letter 04-2

  • LSC Program Letter 04-2, Services to Client Eligible Individuals with Limited English Proficiency
  • Provides a context and guidance for LSC-funded programs with eligible individuals in their service area who are persons with limited English proficiency.
  • Aims to ensure access to justice for communities of potentially eligible clients who do not speak English proficiently

16. What does a LEP policy include?

  • Assessment of Language Needs(of the client population)
  • Staffing
  • Training
  • Interpreters/Translators
  • Translation of Documents
  • Outreach
  • Oversight

17. LEP Plan Website-Related Issues

  • Translation/Interpretation Services
    • Obtaining competent interpretation and translation services for each of the major languages in the programs service area
  • Translation of Documents
    • translation of all vital program documents in the LEP target languages for those groups constituting five percent of the client population
  • Outreach
    • strategies for disseminating information about the availability of bilingual staff or free interpreters/translation
    • revising and translating a programs community outreach materials into appropriate languages

18. Guidance for prioritizing translation of website content.

  • 1.Translated Introductory Page
  • Home page translation into the targeted language(s).
    • Providing basic information about the legal services program such as a description of the program, what services the program provides, the client population served, how to contact the program (office location(s), telephone numbers, intake access information, etc.)
  • If the introductory page is not the same as the home page, make certain that there is an easy way to get to the introductory page(s) in the targeted language(s).
  • For non-target languages, include a message that the legal services program will provide interpretation in the applicants language

19. Guidance for prioritizing translation of website content.

  • 2. A click here for button with a drop-down menu-A button on the home page that indicates that persons who speak the particular language should click here for information in a particular language.The visitor to the website is then able to go directly to website content in their native language
  • [CAVEAT:This should only exist for places where there is actual content in the language.]

20. Guidance for prioritizing translation of website content.

  • 3. Resource informationconcerning interpretation services available in the programs service area for the target language group(s).
  • 4. Community Education materials-Educational materials (brochures, etc.)in the targeted language(s) providing information in a variety of substantive law areas of interest to the client community.[Caveat:These materials should be based on the needs of and utility to the target client population.]

21. Guidance for prioritizing translation of website content.

  • 5.Audio files or graphics (cartoons, diagrams, etc.) For communities with short histories o