Photo Courtesy of John McCarten/NYC Council Media Unit
“A city as diverse as New York should provide critical opportunities, resources, and services that are accessible to all New Yorkers,” said Council Speaker Adrienne Adams.
By Forum Staff
The City Council last week voted in favor of a legislative package to increase language access in the City, helping to ensure more New Yorkers can access services and resources in their primary language.
The Language Access Act seeks to strengthen services and enhance language access for residents and small business owners, identify the capacity of community-based organizations to provide of language services, and increase the translation of city documents and materials into more of the most commonly spoken languages.
“A city as diverse as New York should provide critical opportunities, resources, and services that are accessible to all New Yorkers,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams.
The package includes:
Introduction 136-B would require an agency, designated by the Mayor, to conduct a survey of relevant community-based organizations (CBOs) assessing their capacity to provide translation, interpretation and other related language services.
Introduction 700-A would require city agencies that provide direct or emergency services to translate commonly distributed documents that relate to the enforcement of local laws and rules. These documents would need to be translated into each of the ten designated citywide languages spoken by New Yorkers with limited English proficiency.
Introduction 697-A would help ensure that city agencies are prepared to serve large populations who are migrating to the City and do not speak one of the designated citywide languages. This legislation would require the Office of the Language Services Coordinator, upon being informed of a conflict, natural disaster, or other event that is likely to cause a significant number of individuals to arrive in the City and seek city services, to identify the primary languages spoken by those individuals and list such languages online. City agencies providing food, shelter, or other urgent assistance to the impacted population would then need to translate relevant documents and make interpretation services available in the languages identified.
Introduction 699-A would require the Business Owners Bill of Rights and the Food Service Establishment Code of Conduct (documents produced by the City that inform small business owners of their rights during inspections and other enforcement activities) to be translated into additional languages and include additional information about language access services provided by the City. In addition, the bill would require city agencies that regularly conduct inspections to report annually on the number of bilingual inspectors they employ. Finally, the bill would require the Hearings Division of the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings to provide small business owners with translations of written decisions upon request. The legislation would help support the immigrant small business community by ensuring that small business owners and operators receive critical information from the City in their preferred language.
Introduction 382-A would provide in-language guidance to small business owners who receive a settlement offer from the City after being charged with a violation of the Administrative Code or the City Rules. The bill would require each settlement offer sent by the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) or the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to be accompanied by a multilingual notice that: (1) informs the recipient that they are receiving a settlement offer because they are being charged with a violation of the law; and (2) directs the recipient (via a QR code or similar mechanism) to a portion of the agency’s website with plain language information about the recipient’s options for responding to the settlement offer. Both the notice and the online information would need to be translated into each of the designated citywide languages.