Legislation Would Improve Accessibility Of COVID-19 Information For New Immigrants And People Of Color, Who Are Disproportionately Impacted By The Pandemic
NEW YORK – Today, the New York State Senate’s Internet and Technology Committee passed legislation sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman (D/WF-Manhattan) and Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou (D/WF-Manhattan) (S.4716-A/A.6215), to require state agency websites to provide translation into the top 12 languages spoken by New York State residents. The bill requires state agencies to provide translation services for all COVID-19 information within 30 days, and all state agency websites within 90 days. The legislation is especially important for immigrant communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis..
Senator Hoylman said: “More than five million New Yorkers live in households where the primary language isn’t English. That’s why we can’t let language be a barrier to life-saving information, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our state government should speak the language of New Yorkers so they can make vaccine appointments, apply for unemployment insurance, negotiate housing information and have access to other vital services provided by the State. New York’s immigrant communities have suffered enough the last 14 months, we must make sure non-English speakers have full access to all parts of our state’s robust recovery plan. I’m proud to partner with Assemblymember Niou on this important legislation that will make government sites easier to navigate for millions of our neighbors.”
Assemblymember Niou and Senator Hoylman’s legislation would require State agency websites to provide translation into the 12 most common non-English languages spoken by New Yorkers. Under the bill, state agencies would have 30 days to translate all COVID-19 related websites and 90 days for all other websites.
More than 5.6 million New Yorkers live in households where English is not the primary language; many of them are part of communities that have been disproportionately hit by the COVID-19 crisis, including new immigrants and people of color. Many New Yorkers lack access to critical services, and the language barrier prevents them from accessing the necessary information to apply for unemployment insurance, find food distribution centers, and access life-saving human services. This bill will greatly increase the accessibility of our agency websites to better support and reflect the diverse, inclusive communities of New York State.