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Individuals who do not speak English as their primary language, and who have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English can be Limited English Proficient, or "LEP." These individuals may be entitled to language assistance with respect to a particular type of service, benefit, or encounter. Federal laws particularly applicable to language access include Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on national origin, Executive Order 13166 issued in 2000, and Maryland Senate Bill 265, enacted in 2002.
Executive Order 13166 requires Federal agencies, and those agencies receiving federal funds, to examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to those with LEP, and develop and implement a system to provide those services so LEP persons can have meaningful access to them. It is expected that agency plans will provide for such meaningful access consistent with, and without unduly burdening the fundamental mission of the agency. The Executive Order also requires that the Federal agencies work to ensure that recipients of Federal financial assistance, such as SHA, provide meaningful access to their LEP applicants and beneficiaries.
More information on Executive Order 13166 can be found at Executive Order 13166: Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency.
MD Senate Bill 265 is primarily a state reaffirmation of Executive Order 13166. The law declares the intent of the Maryland General Assembly that State departments, agencies, and programs shall provide equal access to public services for individuals with Limited English Proficiency; requiring vital documents to be translated into any language spoken by any Limited English Proficient population that constitutes 3% of the overall population within a specified geographic area.
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