Civil Rights Assurance
CIVIL RIGHTS POLICY GUIDANCE 1.1 Civil Rights Act of 1964: The Grantee shall comply with Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub. L. 88-352), section 11 (c) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, as amended, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (Pub. L. 94-135) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Pub. L. 93-112, sec. 504) and all requirements imposed by the regulations issued pursuant to these Acts by the Department of Agriculture to the effect that, no person in the United States shall, on the grounds of sex, race, color, age, political belief, religion, handicap, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subject to discrimination under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). 1.2 Equal Opportunity Access for Persons with Disabilities: The Grantee shall ensure equal opportunity access for persons with disabilities. This includes ensuring that communication with applicants, participants, members of the public, and companions with disabilities are as effective as communications with people without disabilities. Contractors that do not provide persons with disabilities equal opportunity access to programs may risk violating prohibitions against disability discrimination in the Rehabilitation Act of 1978, the ADA, and the SNAP regulations. The Department of Justice (DOJ) published revised final regulations implementing Title II and Title III of the ADA on September 15, 2010. These regulations are codified at 28 C.F.R. Part 35, “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services” and 28 C.F.R. Part 36, “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities”. In accordance with the implementing regulations, State Agencies and all subcontractors must provide auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effective communication and equal opportunity access to program benefits for individuals with disabilities. The type of auxiliary aids and services required will vary, but may not require an individual with a disability to bring another individual to interpret, and may rely on a person accompanying a disabled individual only in limited circumstances. When communicating with applicants and beneficiaries by telephone, it must provide Text Telephone Services (TTY) or an equally effective electronic telecommunications system to communicate with individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or hearing impaired. The Grantee must also ensure that interested persons, including persons with impaired vision or hearing, can obtain information as to the existence and location of accessible services, activities, and facilities (http://www.ada.gov). 1.3 Limited English Proficiency: Executive Order 13166, “Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency (LEP),” and Title II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Grantee shall ensure meaningful access to programs, services, and information for persons with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and persons with disabilities in accordance with Federal law, regulations and current guidance from the DOJ and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- Meaningful Access for LEP Individuals: Reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that LEP persons have meaningful access to programs, services, and benefits. This includes the requirement to provide bilingual program information and certification materials and interpretation services to single language minorities in certain project areas. SNAP State agencies that do not provide meaningful access for LEP individuals risk violating prohibitions against discrimination based on National Origin in the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, as amended, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), and SNAP
Federal LEP regulations and guidance include:
- SNAP regulations provided by 7 C.F.R. Part 272.4(b), “Bilingual requirements”;
- Executive Order 13166 of August 11, 2000, “Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency,” reprinted in 65 FR 50121, 50122 (August 16, 2000);
- DOJ policy guidance titled, “Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons,” published in 67 FR 41455, 41457 (June 18, 2002); and
- USDA policy guidance titled, “Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Person”, published in 79 FR 70771 – 70784 (November 28, 2014).
- To be in compliance, the Title VI guidance provided by DOJ and USDA requires an assessment of the LEP needs of the population served and determine the LEP services required by balancing four factors:
- The number proportion of LEP persons eligible to be served or likely to be encountered within the area serviced by the recipient;
- The frequency with which LEP individuals come in contact with the program;
- The nature and importance of the program, activity, or service to people’s lives; and
- The resources available to the recipient and costs.
- The Grantee shall develop and implement a plan to address the LEP needs of the population served. This may include contracting for oral interpretation services, hiring bilingual staff, arranging telephone interpreters and/or language lines, coordinating community volunteers, translating vital documents, and providing written notice that language services are available inappropriate languages. Quality and accuracy of the language service is critical in order to avoid serious consequences to the LEP person and to the recipient. LEP needs should be considered in developing State and local budgets and front line staff should understand how to obtain LEP services.
- The Grantee shall consult the USDA’s 2014 policy guidance, which includes detailed information on assessing LEP needs, identifying practices for translating documents that will be seen as strong evidence of compliance. For additional assistance and information regarding LEP matters, please also visit http://www.lep.gov. The website includes online LEP mapping tools designed to help assess the language needs of the population served by a particular program or facility.