Voluntary Compliance Effort
The goal is to provide meaningful access to LEP persons. The Department of Labor and Industry's Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) enforces the LEP policy. The procedures used by the OEO include complaint investigations, compliance reviews, efforts to secure voluntary compliance, training, and technical assistance.
The OEO will engage in voluntary compliance efforts and provide technical assistance to Program areas at all stages of LEP program plan development, and in the case of an investigation. During these efforts, the OEO will propose reasonable timetables for achieving compliance and assist Program areas in exploring cost effective ways of coming into compliance.
The primary concern of the Office of Equal Opportunity is to ensure that L&I's policies and procedures provide meaningful access for LEP persons to the Agency's programs, services and activities.
The OEO recognizes that many Program areas have language assistance programs in place prior to the issuance of this policy. This policy provides a uniform framework for each Program area to integrate, formalize, and assess the continued vitality of these existing and possibly additional reasonable efforts based on the nature of its programs, services or activity, the current needs of the LEP populations it encounters, and its prior experience in providing language services in the community it serves. L&I programs should identify in the LEP Plan, language assistance programs already in place, critical documents already translated, and what languages are currently translated.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its implementing regulations require that Federal and State Agencies take responsible steps to ensure meaningful access to programs by LEP persons. This guidance provides a framework that programs in the Department of Labor & Industry may use to determine how best to comply in providing meaning access to benefits, services, information, and other important portions of their programs, services, and activities for individuals who are Limited English Proficient.
The focus of the analysis is on lack of English proficiency, not the ability to speak more than one language. People who are also overwhelmingly proficient in English may speak some of the most commonly spoken languages other than English. However, these may not be the languages spoken most frequently by Limited English Proficient individuals. When using demographic data, it is important to focus on the languages spoken by those who ARE NOT proficient in English.
In general, languages have "regionalisms" or difference or preference in usage. Also, the level at which the language is used is directly affected by the educational attainment of the user. There may be languages that do not have an appropriate direct interpretation. A competent interpreter should be aware of and be able to provide the most appropriate interpretation taking into consideration regionalisms, difference or preference in usage and most importantly the level at which the target language is used and comprehended by the LEP individual. A competent interpreter should make the program staff aware of the issue, and the interpreter and program staff can then work to develop a consistent and appropriate set of descriptions for these terms in a specific language that can be used again, when appropriate.
For those languages in which no formal accreditation currently exists, a particular level of membership in a professional translation association can provide some indicator of interpreter's professionalism. L&I programs will find it more effective and less costly if they try to maintain consistency in the words and phrases used to translate legal terminology or other technical concepts such as unemployment compensation, appeal rights and processes, claimants, registrants, etc. Providing translators and interpreters with examples of previous translations of similar material by L&I programs, other State Agencies, or Federal Agencies may be helpful as well.