En EspaƱol Know Your Rights
Source: NY1
Subject: Health Justice & Access
Type: Media Coverage

Mayor Expands City Translation Services

Navigating
the city’s bureaucracy is hard enough when you are fluent in English, but
imagine if you only spoke Korean. Now Mayor Bloomberg says he’s come up with a
solution, and as political reporter Rita Nissan reports in the following
package, the initiative probably won’t come cheap.

Yorelis Vidal** knows what it’s like not being
understood. The Dominican
Republic native doesn’t speak English and
had a tough time getting food stamps for her family.

"I suffered
discrimination trying to get public assistance because I couldn’t communicate,"
said Vidal. "I was humiliated."

But now
Mayor Michael Bloomberg says that type of discrimination will be a thing of the
past.

He signed
an executive order Tuesday, requiring all city services to be translated into
the city’s six most commonly spoken languages: Spanish, Chinese, Russian,
French Creole, Italian and Korean.

The mayor
says there are nearly two million New Yorkers who have trouble with English.
Now if any of them need to apply for a marriage license or communicate with
police officers, there will be help for them.

"From
now on, New Yorkers with limited proficiency in English will be able to
approach the city with confidence knowing that we have the systems in place to
respond to their needs," said Bloomberg.

Bloomberg
wouldn’t put a price tag on the plan, but it could be in the tens of millions.

A recent
study by the city’s Independent Budget Office found it would cost one city
agency, Housing, Preservation and Development, $7 million to translate services
into nine languages.

The mayor
says whatever the cost, it’s worth it.

"The
fundamental basis of government is the interaction with its citizens," said
Bloomberg. "If people don’t know what we do, don’t know what they should do, or
law requires them to do, don’t know how to get services, all the money that we
spend providing those services and writing those laws is meaningless."

For people
like Vidal, it’s priceless.

"Now we
will be happy," said Vidal.
"Immigrant families will have interpretation services and won’t suffer like I
have suffered."

** Civil Rights and Immigrant Power Organizer at Make the Road New York