Dialect – A regional variety of language distinguished by features of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation from other regional varieties and constituting together with them a single language.
Fair Housing Act (The) – see Title VIII below
Language – The method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way; a system of communication used by a particular country or community.
Interpretation – The oral conversion of one language into another.
Language Access Plan (LAP) – After completing the four-factor analysis and deciding what language assistance services are appropriate, a recipient may develop an implementation plan or LAP to address identified needs of the LEP populations it serves. Some elements that may be helpful in designing a LAP include:
- Identifying LEP persons who need language assistance and the specific language assistance that is needed;
- Identifying the points and types of contact the agency and staff may have with LEP persons;
- Identifying ways in which language assistance will be provided;
- Outreaching effectively to the LEP community;
- Training staff;
- Determining which documents and informational materials are vital;
- Translating informational materials in identified language(s) that detail services and activities provided to beneficiaries (e.g., model leases, tenants’ rights and responsibilities brochures, fair housing materials, first-time homebuyer guide);
- Providing appropriately translated notices to LEP persons (e.g., eviction notices, security information, emergency plans);
- Providing interpreters for large, medium, small, and one-on-one meetings;
- Developing community resources, partnerships, and other relationships to help with the provision of language services; and
- Making provisions for monitoring and updating the LAP, including seeking input from beneficiaries and the community on how it is working and on what other actions should be taken.
Language Needs Assessment (or Four Factor Analysis) – As a starting point, a recipient may conduct an individualized assessment that balances the following four factors:
- The number or proportion of LEP persons served or encountered in the eligible service population (‘‘served or encountered’’ includes those persons who would be served or encountered by the recipient if the persons received adequate education and outreach and the recipient provided sufficient language services);
- The frequency with which LEP persons come into contact with the program;
- The nature and importance of the program, activity, or service provided by the program; and
- The resources available and costs to the recipient.
Limited English proficient (also LEP) – When a person’s primary language is not English, and the person has a limited ability to read, write, speak or understand English.
Meaningful access – According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “meaningful access” means language assistance that results in accurate, timely, and effective communication at no cost to the LEP individual. For LEP individuals, “meaningful access” denotes access that is not significantly restricted, delayed or inferior as compared to programs or activities provided to English-proficient individuals.
Safe Harbor – when a provider of a federally-assisted housing program has undertaken reasonable efforts to prevent a finding of non-compliance with respect to the needed translation of vital documents for the eligible population and program beneficiaries. Below are charts to assist in determining “safe harbor” for the translation of vital documents.
For more detailed information on determining eligible population and beneficiaries in a Language Needs Assessment, refer to USDA’s LEP Implementation Strategy for Federally Assisted Programs.
Safe Harbor Guidance for Eligible Population
|Size of language group||Recommended provision of written assistance|
|1,000 or more in the eligible population in the market area||Translated vital documents|
|More than 5% of the eligible population and more than 50 in number||Translated vital documents|
|More than 5% of the eligible population and 50 or less in number||Translated written notice of right to receive free oral interpretation of documents|
|5% or less of the eligible population and less than 1000 in number||No written translation required|
Safe Harbor Guidance for Beneficiaries
|Size of language group||Recommended provision of written assistance|
|1,000 or more among current beneficiaries||Translated vital documents|
|More than 5% of the beneficiaries and more than 50 in number||Translated vital documents|
|More than 5% of the beneficiaries and 50 or less in number||Translated written notice of right to receive free oral interpretation of documents|
|5% or less of the beneficiaries and less than 1000 in number||No written translation required|
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act – Prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in any program or activity that receives federal funds or other federal financial assistance. Title VI requires providers of federally-assisted housing or programs to provide “meaningful access” to those that are limited English proficient because of the nexus between race, national origin and limited English proficiency. Recipients of federal funds that fail to comply with their obligations under Title VI risk losing the federal assistance.
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act (the Fair Housing Act) – Outlaws:
- Refusal to sell or rent a dwelling to any person because of race, color, disability, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.
- Discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin in the terms, conditions or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling.
- Advertising the sale or rental of a dwelling indicating preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, disability or national origin.
- Coercing, threatening, intimidating, or interfering with a person’s enjoyment or exercise of housing rights based on discriminatory reasons or retaliating against a person or organization that aids or encourages the exercise or enjoyment of fair housing rights.
- Treating people that are limited English proficient differently.
Refer to Office of General Counsel Guidance on Fair Housing Act Protections for Persons with Limited English Proficiency for more detailed information.
Translation – The written conversion of one language into another
Vital Document – A term used in federally-assisted activities that refers to a document that is critical for ensuring meaningful access to potential beneficiaries and limited English proficient persons, specifically; this includes the Fair Housing Poster. For more information and Fair Housing Posters please see the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Access to notices of Non-Discrimination here.