En Español Know Your Rights
Source: The Epoch Times
Subject: Language Access
Type: Media Coverage

Mayor Orders City Agencies to Go Multilingual

NEW
YORK—The Mayor signed an executive order on Tuesday, July 22 mandating that all
city agencies must start providing services in the top six foreign languages
spoken in New York.**

City
agencies that directly interact with New Yorkers will have to include Spanish,
Russian, Chinese, French-Creole, and Korean interpretation services and
materials in those languages.

"For
the 1.8 million New Yorkers with limited English proficiency, interacting with
government all too often can be a challenge," said Mayor Michael
Bloomberg. "All New Yorkers should have the same access to the same
services and the same opportunities. This Executive Order will make our city
more accessible, while helping us become the most inclusive municipal
government in the nation."

The City
has been asking various city agencies to increase their language options for
several years. The new Executive Order is the first comprehensive policy to
demand language accessibility across the board.

"It
didn’t make sense to look at this agency by agency," said Council Speaker
Christine Quinn at the signing.

Last year
over three million New Yorkers accessed city agencies by phone and over 10
million visit agency offices, according to Jeff Kay, the director of the
Mayor’s Office of Operations.

The Mayor
hopes to draw on the pool of polyglots New
York City offers to fill translator jobs.

The
Office of Operations will monitor the execution of the plans, which are expected
to take shape by the beginning of 2009.

Under
Local Law 73 signed by Mayor Bloomberg in 2003, the Department of Health and
Mental Hygiene, the Department of Homeless Services, the Administration for
Children’s Services and the Human Resources Administration already provide
enhanced language access, according to the city website. Since 2003, the 311 Customer Service Center
has been providing information for callers in 170 different languages.

**This
Executive Order reflects years of advocacy by Make the Road New York and other immigrant advocates.