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Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station Limited English Proficiency and Language Access Plan

I.    Purpose

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin by an entity receiving federal financial assistance. This Limited English Proficiency policy and Language Access Plan was developed to ensure effective communication and equal access to Research/Experiment Station opportunities provided by the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station, operating under the auspices of the UMass Amherst Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment, for persons with limited English proficiency. Limited English Proficient (LEP) persons are defined as any prospective, potential, or actual participant in, or beneficiary of, research/experiment station activities, who cannot speak, read, write, or understand the English language at a level that permits them to interact effectively with Research/Experiment Station faculty and/or staff, and including the staff of the UMass Amherst Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment. The document provides both policy and a plan for how the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station, and the UMass Amherst Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment, meets its responsibilities and commitment to serving the linguistically diverse persons and communities of Massachusetts.

II.    Policy

It is the policy of the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station – and by association, the UMass Amherst Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment – to ensure that no person is prohibited from participation based on national origin in any opportunities provided by the Experiment Station. It is our policy to ensure that reasonable steps are taken to provide timely, meaningful access and an equal opportunity to participate in Experiment Station activities and to access Experiment Station publications and resources, to individuals whose first language is not English.

This policy includes providing oral interpretation or written translation of vital documents and other information to limited English proficient (LEP) persons and their authorized representatives. All interpreters, translators, and other aids needed to comply with this policy will be provided without cost to the person(s) being served. LEP people and their authorized representatives will be informed of the availability of such assistance.

The Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station will conduct a review of the language access needs of its participants and recipients and will update this plan periodically as warranted. Employees having direct contact with LEP persons will be trained in effective communication techniques, including the procedures for securing interpretation and translation services.

III.    Definitions

  • Discrimination. The unfavorable treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person based on the group, class, or category to which that person belongs rather than on individual merit.
  • Interpretation. Listening to communication in one language and orally converting it to another language while retaining the same meaning.
  • Language Access. Efforts to make programs and services accessible to individuals who are not proficient in English.
  • Language Assistance Services. Interpretation or translation services that assist LEP persons in understanding or communicating in another language.
  • Limited English Proficient (LEP) Person. An individual who does not speak English as their primary language and self-identifies as having a limited ability to read, speak, write or understand English.
  • Meaningful Access. Denotes access to programs, activities and services that are not significantly restricted, delayed, or inferior as compared to programs or activities provided to English proficient persons.
  • Qualified Interpreter. An individual who provides interpretation services at a level of fluency, comprehension, impartiality, and confidentiality appropriate to the specific nature, type and purpose of the information at issue.
  • Reasonable Steps. The affirmative and appropriate measures and resources used to mitigate access barriers to information and participation in educational programs.
  • Translation. The process of transferring ideas expressed in writing from one language to another language.
  • Translator. A person who transfers ideas expressed in writing from one language to another.
  • Vital Document. Paper or electronic written material that contains information that is critical for accessing a program or activity, or is required by law, such as consent forms, applications, and notices of rights.

IV.    Procedures

Statewide Four Factor Analysis

Factor 1: Number or proportion of LEP persons served or encountered

Most persons living in Massachusetts read, write, speak, and understand English.  There are a number of people, however, for whom English is not their primary language. Over 1.6 million Massachusetts residents age 5 years and older speak a language other than English at home (nearly 25% of the population). Languages with highest prevalence include Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Haitian, and Vietnamese. Of the 1.1 million people who spoke one of these five languages at home, 46% of them report that they speak English “less than very well.”  

It is estimated that statewide, ten percent of individuals self-identify as limited in their ability to speak, read, write, or understand English. 


Total # of Speakers

# who speak English less than "very well"

Percentage of total MA population who speak English less than "very well" - by language spoken at home

 Total population 5 years and over
























(Migration Policy Institute is the source of data provided under “Factor1” above.) 

Factor 2: Frequency with which lep persons come into contact with the program or activity

Frequency of contact with specific language groups is related to the need for enhanced language services. The steps that are reasonable when serving an LEP person on a one-time basis are very different than those expected when serving LEP persons daily. The Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station has not historically collected data on such contact so a proper analysis cannot be made at this time. The reporting system used by recipients of Experiment Station funds will be updated so that researchers can add such data to that system. Such collection is expected to begin no later than July 1, 2024, with the first evaluation of language contacts to occur after 6 months of data collection. With such data, the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station will be able to determine which translation services will be most effective.

Factor 3: Nature and importance of the program, activity or service

If programs and services are not provided in languages other than English, LEP persons would not have access to Research/Experiment Station information. The importance of the activity, or the likelihood of consequences to LEP people, is reviewed and balanced against the other three factors. Faculty leading and/or participating in Research/Experiment Station activities, and responsible administrative staff in the Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment, will identify activities and publications and resources which would have serious consequences to persons if language barriers prevented access to information, and language assistance services will be made available. Appropriate staff members in the Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment, who are supporting the activities of the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station, will determine the appropriate form of language assistance (written or oral) to be provided at no cost to the LEP individual.

Factor 4: Resources available to the recipient and costs

The presence of the UMass Translation Center on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus makes language access services easily available when needed. The most cost-effective means of delivering competent and accurate language services should be carefully explored before deciding to limit services due to resource concerns on the part of the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station and the Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment. "Reasonable steps" may cease to be reasonable where the costs imposed substantially exceed the benefits. Resource and cost issues, which are solely the concern of the Experiment Station and CAFE, can often be reduced by technological advances; the sharing of language assistance materials and services; and reasonable business practices. Prior to denial of services, careful consideration should be made whether there is a potential for an LEP person to be adversely impacted, or to be excluded from use or benefits of a Research/Experiment Station activity or resource, if language assistance services are not provided.

Making Information Accessible for LEP Clientele

The Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station has an obligation to provide accommodations for individuals with limited English proficiency. Therefore, it is unlawful to deny a request for language support services to a person who is a participant or wants to participate in Research/Experiment Station activities, or to access the publications and resources produced by the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station. 

At the point of contact with an LEP person, employees will determine whether the person has limited English proficiency, determine his or her primary language, and implement or procure the appropriate language assistance service (usually through the UMass Translation Center). The primary method for identifying LEP persons who require language assistance services is self-identification when requesting participation in Experiment Station activities, or access to Experiment Station publications and resources.

In response to the needs of LEP persons, faculty or staff may connect these persons to assistance provided by qualified interpreters and translators. The UMass Translation Center provides these services for the UMass Amherst community and beyond, with interpreters and translators who have appropriate skill levels with languages other than English, and that are commonly spoken in Massachusetts. The UMass Translation Center notes on their website that they are also “often able to fill requests for languages without high concentrations of speakers in our region.”

Communications Plan

The Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station will inform customers of services available to limited English proficiency persons. This Limited English Proficiency plan will be posted on our web page.

Monitoring and Evaluation

LEP self-assessments will be completed annually and maintained in the region’s civil rights file. Regional Directors will provide oversight of the annual review process. The Assistant Director for Administration will be responsible for administrative oversight relative to monitoring and evaluating the reach and impact of language access efforts and to ensure LEP policies and procedures remain current and result in effective language services and meaningful access. The Language Access Plan will be reviewed and updated every five years.

V.    Required Training

Faculty or staff who could potentially interact or communicate with LEP people are required to complete an annual Civil Rights training which will include information on addressing the language needs of LEP customers. Training will include procedures for requesting translation and interpretation services. The staff of the Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment will work with appropriate University offices, including Workplace Learning & Development and the UMass Translation Center, to develop an online training module that will help the organization meet its language access needs and goals.

VI.    References and Resources

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 601; 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq.; and its
implementing regulations provide that no person in the United States shall, on the grounds of
race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that receives Federal
financial assistance. The Supreme Court, in Lau v. Nichols, 414 U.S. 563 (1974), interpreted
Title VI regulations to hold that Title VI prohibits conduct that has a disproportionate effect on LEP persons because such conduct constitutes national origin discrimination. The following core set of laws, policies, regulations, and tools formulate the legal standards for language access accountability and nondiscrimination compliance:

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Executive Order 13166, Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency (2000)
  • U.S. Department of Justice Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title
  • VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons (DOJ LEP Guidance) reprinted at 67 FR 41455 (June 18, 2002)
  • U.S. Department of Justice Language Access Assessment and Planning Tool for Federally Conducted and Federally Assisted Programs (2011)
  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Limited English Proficiency Tool Kit (2011)
  • 7 CFR Part 15 Subpart A U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Final Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding the Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Persons with Limited English Proficiency (2014)
  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Implementing Strategy for Federally Assisted Programs (2016)

VII.     Additional Information/Questions/Contacts

The following individual can provide additional information on the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station’s commitment to language access:

  • Kathleen Geary, Assistant Director for Administration, Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment -, (413) 545-2917

Additional resources and information on limited English proficiency (LEP) can be found at