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Limited English Proficiency Population Estimates

Estimate of population with limited English proficiency for the state and counties

At the request of a cross-agency working group headed by the Governor's Interagency Council on Health Disparities, OFM has produced these estimates at both the state and county level.


Understanding what languages are spoken across the state, and the number of individuals who speak a given language, is critical to ensuring language access to important information for all Washingtonians. The Washington State Office of Financial Management created the Limited English Proficiency Population Estimate to provide estimate Limited English Proficiency populations across the state. Users are advised that these estimates are not actual counts of the Limited English Proficiency (LEP) population nor are they intended to substitute for counts. Rather they were created to help meet the access and planning needs of state agencies in providing language access.

Providing language access is a requirement for all organizations and agencies that receive federal financial assistance. Therefore, this requirement applies to nearly all state agencies, local governments and more. To meet this requirement, the Department of Justice provides the Safe Harbor provision which recommends translating vital information into every language that is used by 5% of the population or 1,000 people (whichever is less).

The Limited English Proficiency Population Estimates can be used to understand what languages at both the state and county levels meet the Safe Harbor Threshold. Some state agencies, including the Department of Health, use this list as a baseline for translating vital information. More recently, the COVID-19 Language Access Plan for the Washington State Coronavirus Response required that all cabinet agencies translate vital documents into the 36+ languages identified by the 2016 OFM analysis.

To learn more about how this analysis was created, please read about the methodology [PDF]

Ongoing Work

We recognize that language to race/ethnicity pairings may be inaccurate and not represent how language speakers identify. This methodology was determined to be the best approach with the limited data and resources available. In the future, this methodology will be revisited to better reflect how individuals identify.

We are continuing to evaluate this language estimate methodology. We welcome and appreciate feedback on the methodology and the race/ethnicity pairings used for the OSPI based language estimates. Please email your feedback to We will incorporate your feedback into future estimates and/or revise the estimates as appropriate.

Disclaimer: By using these data the user agrees that the Washington State Office of Financial Management shall not be liable for any activity involving these data regarding lost profits or savings or any other consequential damages; or the fitness for use of the data for a particular purpose; or the installation of the data, its use, or the results obtained.

Last updated
Thursday, August 18, 2022
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