U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Was this page helpful?

Limited English Proficiency (LEP)

                                                              U.S. Department of Commerce


The U.S. Department of Commerce will take reasonable steps to ensure that persons with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) have meaningful access and an equal opportunity to participate in our services, activities, programs, and other benefits. The policy of the U.S. Department of Commerce is to ensure meaningful communication with LEP individuals and their authorized representatives involving their medical conditions and treatment. The policy also provides for communication of information contained in vital Departmental and bureau documents. All interpreters, translators and other aids needed to comply with this policy shall be provided without cost to the person being served, and LEP individuals will be informed of the availability of such assistance free of charge.

Language assistance will be provided through use of competent bilingual staff, staff interpreters, contracts or formal arrangements with local organizations providing interpretation or translation services, or technology and telephonic interpretation services. All staff will be provided notice of this policy, and staff that may have direct contact with LEP individuals will be trained in effective communication techniques, including the effective use of an interpreter. 

The Department will conduct a regular review of the language access needs of the communities served by the Department and its bureaus, as well as update and monitor the implementation of this policy, as necessary.

Background on Limited English Proficiency

Executive Order 13166, signed on August 11, 2000, requires each Federal agency to examine the services it provides for LEP. Agencies must develop and implement a system by which people who have limited English proficiency can meaningfully access those services consistent with, and without unduly burdening, the fundamental mission of the agency. It also calls on Federal agencies to work to ensure that recipients of Federal financial assistance provide meaningful access to their LEP applicants and beneficiaries.

The U.S. Department of Justice has issued a Policy Guidance Document, "Enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - National Origin Discrimination Against Persons With Limited English Proficiency" (2002 LEP Guidance). This LEP Guidance sets forth the compliance standards that recipients of Federal financial assistance must follow to ensure that their programs and activities normally provided in English are accessible to LEP persons and thus do not discriminate on the basis of national origin in violation of Title VI's prohibition against national origin discrimination.

The Department’s LEP Plan issued in 2011 is found here: (The DOC 2011 LEP Plan).  The Department is in the processing of updating this plan. The Department recommitted to updating the LEP Plan in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Strategic Plan, under the Accessibility Goal. (See U.S. Department of Commerce Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Strategic Plan 2022–2024.)

Information about the Federal Government's efforts to provide meaningful access to persons with limited English proficiency can be found on the LEP.gov website, a project of the Interagency Working Group on Limited English Proficiency. Additional resources on LEP include:


For additional information on Limited English Proficiency at the U.S. Department of Commerce, please contact the Director, Office of Civil Rights at (202) 482-0048, or the Director of OCR’s Policy Implementation Division, at (202) 482-2627.