Publication Date



Economic Development


An individual with a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English may be termed limited English proficient, or LEP. In 2001, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 33% of Spanish speakers and 22.4% of Asian speakers between the ages of 18 and 64 reported that they spoke English either “not well” or “not at all.” The percentages are based on the 2000 census, which reported 26 million individuals speaking Spanish as their primary language, and 7 million speaking an Asian or a Pacific Island language. LEP individuals often cannot access important federally funded benefits or services because they do not have a sufficient understanding of what is required or how to qualify. The language barrier also means they sometimes cannot understand or exercise important rights, understand information provided by federally funded programs and activities, or comply with applicable responsibilities.