Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d et. seq. and its implementing regulation at 45 CFR Part 80 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 providers of health and social services who receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities to Limited English Proficient (LEP) persons, pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The policy guidance reiterates HHS' longstanding position that in order to avoid discrimination against LEP persons on grounds of national origin, health and social service providers must take adequate steps to ensure that such persons receive the language assistance necessary to afford them meaningful access to their services, free of charge. The guidance also clarifies for health and social service providers, and members of the public, that a recipient/covered entity must ensure that eligible LEP persons have meaningful access to programs and services. The guidance also provides examples of policies and practices that OCR would find violative of Title VI, and sets out the policies, procedures and other steps that recipients can take to ensure meaningful access to their programs by LEP persons.
The guidance does not impose any new requirements but reiterates longstanding Title VI principles that OCR has been enforcing for over 30 years. The guidance discusses methods by which recipient/covered entities can meet their obligation to provide oral interpretation to LEP persons. The guidance also outlines the general parameters of a recipient/covered entity's obligation to provide translation of written materials, providing examples that illustrate both the importance of such translation and the flexibility that recipients have in meeting this obligation. The guidance includes an appendix with a series of questions and answers that provides a useful summary of a number of the major aspects of the guidance.
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