Have you seen the acronym LEP used and wondered what it means? This guide explains what it stands for, where it is commonly used and why it matters.
The Meaning of LEP
LEP stands for Limited English Proficiency. The term is used to describe individuals who live in the United States, aren’t native speakers of the English language and who currently have trouble communicating effectively in English. This can include people with a wide range of abilities, from those who speak no English at all to those who have a working knowledge of the language but have difficulties in certain areas such as reading or writing, or in situations that require specific terminology. LEP individuals may require extra help or support with day-to-day tasks, and they may also require additional services when accessing healthcare, educational opportunities or government services.
How Is LEP Used and Why Is an Understanding of the LEP Acronym Important?
The term Limited English Proficiency (LEP) is commonly used by government agencies and nonprofits, as well as private companies and other organizations, in order to identify individuals whose primary language is not English, and who have difficulty communicating effectively in English.
For many organizations, knowing and understanding the LEP acronym is an important part of their language access responsibilities to provide the public with equal access to their organization’s information and services regardless of someone’s language abilities. It helps them determine who is an LEP, so that they can offer language assistance to LEP individuals and ensure that their needs are appropriately and adequately met.
Tips for Interacting with LEP Individuals
When interacting with individuals who have limited English proficiency, it's important to be patient and understanding. Make sure that you speak clearly and slowly and give the person time to understand what you’re saying. Allow extra time for interactions so that both parties can effectively communicate without feeling rushed or uncomfortable. Additionally, utilize visual aids where possible and when it makes sense to. They can be helpful when it comes to clarifying information or complex concepts. However, interpreting services are preferred.
Use interpreting services when having an important conversation, relaying critical information or when more precise communication is required. Using interpreting services allows individuals with limited English proficiency to more easily understand what is being communicated, in addition to giving them the opportunity to express themselves in their primary language. When an on-site interpreter is not feasible, over-the-phone interpreting services are a great alternative and can provide interpreters in different languages as required.
Supporting Individuals with Limited English Proficiency
It's important to understand what the LEP acronym means. It helps you to better serve members of the public who may come into contact with your organization and who may require language support services. But don’t wait for an emergency.
Sign up now with Accentable Services to provide your organization with reliable, easy-to-use over-the-phone interpreting services in more than 260 languages.