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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                       (Los Angeles, California)
For Immediate Release                                    August 11, 2000


Today, I am issuing an Executive Order to help people with limited English proficiency (LEP) access federal services. Many people who are eligible for federal services cannot effectively use those services because they are not proficient in English. The Executive Order directs federal agencies to improve the language-accessibility of their programs by December 11, 2000. This initiative complements our commitment to promoting programs to help individuals learn English.

I am concerned that language barriers are preventing the federal government and recipients of federal financial assistance from effectively serving a large number of people in this country who are eligible to participate in their programs. Failure to systematically confront language barriers can lead to unequal access to federal benefits based on national origin and can harm the mission of federal agencies. Breaking down these barriers will allow individuals with limited English proficiency to more fully participate in American society.

This Executive Order directs federal agencies to break down language barriers by implementing consistent standards of language assistance across agencies and among all recipients of federal financial assistance. Under this flexible standard, agencies and recipients must take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to their programs and activities, taking into account a variety of considerations. 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 nature and importance of the service provided by the program, and the available resources.