A. ANF Administrative Bulletin #16 establishes Language Access Guidelines, which each Executive Branch agency must follow in the development and administration of its Language Access Plan. The Secretary of Administration and Finance, Jay Gonzalez, signed ANF Administrative Bulletin #16 on July 16, 2010. The Bulletin becomes effective August 1, 2010.
Q. What is the basis for developing and implementing ANF Administrative Bulletin 16?
A. Executive Order 478 is the basis for developing and implementing ANF Administrative Bulletin 16. The Office of Access and Opportunity, pursuant to Executive Order 519, has brought forward ANF Administrative Bulletin to ensure access to agency services, programs and activities in a nondiscriminatory basis.
Q. What is the definition of a Limited English Proficient (LEP) individual?
A. An individual who does not speak English as their primary language and who has a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English can be limited English proficient, or LEP.
Q. What is a Language Access Plan?
A. An agency's Language Access Plan is an administrative blueprint that identifies how an agency will ensure that meaningful access will be available to LEP individuals. The Language Access Plan outlines the tasks to be undertaken, establishes deadlines by which actions will be taken, identifies responsible personnel, and establishes priorities. An agency's Language Access Plan shall be updated every two years.
Q. Who will oversee agency Language Access Plan implementation and administration?
A. Each agency is responsible for effective language access plan implementation. The agency will appoint an agency staff person to serve as its Language Access Coordinator, who will be the agency's point person in the development, implementation and administration of the agency Language Access Plan. The Office of Access and Opportunity has ultimate responsibility for ensuring compliance with the requirements of ANF Administrative Bulletin #16.
Q. What are state agency requirements relative to language access?
A. State agencies are required to take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to their services, programs and activities by LEP persons through the development and implementation of a Language Access Plan. Such access shall be ensured when the LEP population meets or exceeds 5% of the agency client population. An Agency may and should implement a Language Access Plan whose threshold requirements are more stringent than ANF Administrative Bulletin #16. The starting point is an individualized assessment that balances the following four factors:
(1) The number and proportion of LEP persons served by the agency in its services, programs and activities (see the threshold in the preceding paragraph);
(2) The frequency with which non-English speakers and LEP individuals come in contact with the service, program or activity;
(3) The nature and importance of the service, program or activity provided by the agency; and
(4) The fiscal resources available to the agency and/or costs incurred by the agency.
Q. When developing plans and guidance regarding translation of documents, how should an agency determine which documents must be translated?
A. It is important to ensure that written materials routinely provided in English also be provided in regularly encountered languages other than English. It is particularly important to ensure that vital documents are translated into the non-English language of each regularly encountered LEP group served by the service, program or activity. A document will be considered vital if it contains information that is critical for obtaining state services and/or benefits, or is required by law. Vital documents include, for example: applications, consent and complaint forms; notices of rights and disciplinary action; notices advising LEP persons of the availability of free language assistance; and letters or notices that require a response from the beneficiary or client. For instance, if a complaint form is necessary in order to file a claim with an agency, that complaint form would be vital. Non-vital information includes documents that are not critical to access such benefits and services.
Vital documents must be translated when the percentage of the population served meets or exceeds the indicated threshold. For many larger documents, translation of vital information contained within the document will suffice and the documents need not be translated in their entirety. It may be difficult to draw a distinction between vital and non-vital documents, particularly when considering outreach or other documents designed to raise awareness of services. Though meaningful access to a program requires an awareness of the program's existence, it is recognized that it would be impossible to translate every piece of outreach material. However, because lack of awareness of the existence of a particular program may effectively deny LEP individuals meaningful access, it is important for state agencies to continually survey/assess the needs of service populations in order to determine whether certain critical outreach materials should be translated into other languages.
Q. What is the difference between utilizing a bilingual staff person and an interpreter or translator to meet language access needs?
A. People who are completely bilingual are fluent in two languages. They are able to conduct the business of the workplace in either of those languages. Bilingual staff can assist in meeting the ANF Administrative Bulletin #16 requirement of ensuring meaningful access to LEP persons. One of the primary ways that bilingual staff can be used as part of a broader effort to ensure meaningful access is to have them conduct business with the agencies' LEP clients directly in the clients' primary language.
Note: Many individuals have some proficiency in more than one language, but are not completely bilingual. They may be able to greet a Limited English Proficient individual in his or her language, but not conduct agency business in that language. The distinction is critical in order to ensure meaningful communication and appropriate allocation of resources. It should be noted by the agency that interpretation and translation require additional specific skills in addition to being fully fluent in two or more languages.
Q. What is the difference between Interpretation and Translation?
A. Interpretation involves the immediate communication of meaning from one language (the source language) into another (the target language). An interpreter conveys meaning orally, while a translator conveys meaning from written text to written text. As a result, interpretation requires skills different from those needed for translation.
Interpretation is a complex task that combines several abilities beyond language competence in order to enable delivery of an effective professional interpretation in a given setting. In many circumstances, using a professional interpreter or translator will be both necessary and preferred. However, if bilingual staff members are asked to interpret or translate, they should be qualified to do so. Assessment of ability, training on interpreter ethics and standards, and clear policies that delineate appropriate use of bilingual staff, staff or contract interpreters and translators, will help ensure quality and effective use of resources.
Q. What if federal regulations impose a lower threshold than ANF Administrative Bulletin?
A. Each agency should be aware of federal statutory and/or regulatory requirements that may impose a lower threshold than ANF Administrative Bulletin 16 or which impose requirements greater than ANF Administrative Bulletin 16. In such instances, the agency should strive to meet the more stringent requirements.
Q. What if my agency has developed a Language Access Plan or Policy that meets or exceeds the requirements of ANF Administrative Bulletin 16?
A. If an agency has developed and implemented a Language Access Plan or Policy and said Plan or Policy meets or exceeds the requirements of ANF Administrative Bulletin 16, the agency should submit said Plan or Policy to the Office of Access and Opportunity. If the agency's Language Access Plan or Policy meets or exceeds the requirements of ANF Administrative Bulletin 16, the agency may continue to utilize its existing Language Access Plan or Policy.
Q. What is the role of the Office of Access and Opportunity in implementing Bulletin 16?
A. The role of the Office of Access and Opportunity (OAO) is to approve Executive Branch agencies Language Access Plans. When and where requested, the OAO will provide assistance to an agency in its development of its Language Access Plan.
To assist in the development of additional policy guidance and to ensure inter-agency coordination, the Office of Access and Opportunity will establish an Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC). The ICC will initiate an aggressive program of inter-agency consultations and actively solicit comments and suggestions from representatives of LEP individuals on how to identify and address the needs of LEP individuals in a delivery effective and resource efficient manner.
Q. Will the Office of Access and Opportunity develop further guidance to assist agencies in the development, implementation and administration of Language Access Plans?
A. Yes. From time to time and as circumstances dictate, the Office of Access and Opportunity will develop further guidance to assist agencies in the development, implementation and administration of their Language Access Plans.