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How to Engage Low-Literacy and Limited-English-Proficiency Populations in Transportation Decisionmaking


It is Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) policy to provide "meaningful access" to transportation decisionmaking to all affected and interested people. Executive Order 13166, Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency, requires this outreach include people of limited English proficiency. Combined with nondiscrimination statutes, meaningful access would extend to people who cannot read and understand what is read; thus, the need to include outreach to low-literate populations as well. This booklet provides examples of outreach techniques that might be used or modified to outreach to these two groups as well as others.

This report documents "best practices" in identifying and engaging low-literacy and limited-English-proficiency populations in transportation decisionmaking. These "best practices" were collected during telephone interviews with individuals in 30 States.

These individuals included 11 national technical experts in adult literacy and limited English proficiency, and 57 national experts from Federal, State, county, and city governments, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and their consultants. Additional information was collected during a 1-day Federal Highway Administration- and Federal Transit Administration-sponsored peer review on How to Identify and Engage Low-Literacy and Limited-English-Proficiency Populations in Transportation Decisionmaking.

The information obtained from the telephone interviews and the peer review has been organized into a six-step process that planning and project-development practitioners can employ during planning, project development, right-of-way acquisition, construction, operation and maintenance. This process provides a range of references, tools, techniques, insights, and/or approaches to address the following questions:

The "best practices" identified in this report are not all-inclusive, and practitioners should use any approach they believe would be best in their communities. Practitioners should be sensitive to confidentiality and right-to-privacy issues. While some of the approaches identified may be eligible for funding as part of planning or project-development projects, eligibility of specific approaches should be confirmed with the agency funding that project.

Updated: 3/21/2012
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