The guidance identifies some specific circumstances which OCR will consider to be strong evidence that a program is in compliance with its obligation under Title VI to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to persons with LEP by translating written materials in languages other than English. Does this mean that a recipient/covered entity will be considered out of compliance with Title VI if its program does not translate its documents into languages other than English?

No. The circumstances outlined in the guidance are intended to identify circumstances which amount to a "safe harbor" for recipients who desire greater certainty of Title VI compliance by translating their written documents, including written information posted to their websites. This means that if a recipient provides written translations under these circumstances, such action will be considered strong evidence of compliance with the recipient's written-translation obligations. However, the failure to provide written translations under the circumstances outlined in the "safe harbor"does not mean there is non-compliance. Rather, the safe harbor provides a tool which recipients may use to consider whether the number or proportion of LEP persons served call for written translations of vital documents into frequently encountered languages other than English. However, even if the safe harbors are not used, if written translation of certain documents would be so financially burdensome as to defeat the legitimate objectives of its program, the translation of the written materials is not necessary. Other ways of providing meaningful access, such as effective oral interpretation of certain vital documents, might be acceptable under such circumstances when, upon application of the four factors, translation services are required.

Content created by Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Content last reviewed on November 19, 2015