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Title VI: Limited English Proficiencey (LEP) - Improving Access


This policy guidance is consistent with a Department of Justice (DOJ) directive noting that recipient/covered entities have an obligation pursuant to Title VI's prohibition against national origin discrimination to provide oral and written language assistance to Limited English Proficiency (LEP) persons. It is also consistent with (1) a government-wide Title VI regulation issued by DOJ in 1976, "Coordination of Enforcement of Nondiscrimination in Federally Assisted Programs," 28 C.F.R. Part 42, Subpart F, that addresses the circumstances in which recipient/covered entities must provide written language assistance to LEP persons, and (2) DOJ memorandum issued February 17, 2011, federal governments renewed commitment to language access obligations under executive order 13161 which reaffirms the original mandate and require federal agencies to take specific steps for full compliance.


Section 601 of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. Section 2000d et. seq. 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." This is further ordered by Executive Order 13166, "Improving Access to Services for Persons With Limited English Proficiency," and United States Department of Justice Guidance as published in the Federal Register, Vol. 65, No. 159, August 16, 2000.


The National Science Foundation is an independent government agency whose mission is to promote the progress of science; to advance the National health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the National defense; and for other purposes. This is primarily accomplished through grants to United States (U.S.) colleges and universities as well as museums, school districts, commercial organizations, and state and local governments in a myriad of scientific areas. These entities then award grants to scientific investigators. The investigators with which we have contact are professors or research scientists with advanced degrees employed predominantly at U.S. colleges and universities. NSF also grants a number of fellowships directly to individuals. The vast majority of individual applicants are attending U.S. colleges and universities with a few teaching in U.S. schools. With regard to electronic information, NSF has a website that is available for public access. There are approximately 3.4 million visits to the website annually. There is also a NSF website (Fastlane) which is required for submissions of all grant proposals. This website receives approximately 1.2 million visits annually. There have been no requests for translated materials from visitors to either website. However, as part of the federal government's renewed commitment, NSF is currently assessing its services to ensure language access to recipients.

There does not appear to be a current existing barrier that excludes individuals with limited English proficiency from participating in Federally assisted programs and activities provided by NSF. We come to this conclusion based on the results of our current assessment, and with the knowledge that, historically, English is thought of as the primary language for education and research in the U.S. scientific community.

If there are any questions related to this policy, please contact the Office of Equity and Civil Rights.