Limited English Proficiency (LEP)

Nearly 61 million Americans — roughly 21 percent of the population — do not speak English at home according to the 2011 American Community Survey from the U.S. Census.1

The federal government defines persons with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) as individuals who do not speak English as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English may be LEP and may be eligible to receive language assistance with respect to the particular service, benefit, or encounter.2

Providing language access for persons with LEP is the law

The legal foundation for language access lies in Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which states: "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."3

Language Access Will Improve Patient Safety & Quality

Language barriers can lead to poor communication which can impact patient safety, quality and the health care experience. The resources and tools provided below will provide valuable information to help you and your staff communicate well with patients who do not speak English well. These tools can enhance communication and understanding, thereby increasing the quality of care and reducing the risk of medical errors due to poor communication.



"Working to Meet Patient's Language Needs" — Provider News, Issue 3, 2014
"Do You Need a Language Interpreter for Your Limited English Proficient Patients?" — Provider News, Issue 6, 2014


Last updated on 2/9/2017 10:09:31 AM


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