Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Translation Service—New York | Ohio | DC

State agencies will provide translated forms, interpretation for non-native New Yorkers

October 11, 2011
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an Executive Order last week mandating that state agencies must provide free translation and interpretation services to help more New Yorkers fill out necessary forms, read instructions and obtain aid and other social services. The order was signed to help the two and a half million New Yorkers who do not speak English as their primary language. Translation and interpretation will be offered in the six primary non-English languages spoken in New York state: Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Russian, French and French Creole.
At the signing, Cuomo greeted the press with “Bonjourno,” to laughter from the audience. In addition to introducing the Executive Order, the governor announced that his website will also be translated into other languages.
“The message today was amazingly simple … the acknowledgement that sometimes it takes government so long to accomplish an obvious purpose and to remedy an obvious injustice,” said Cuomo. “Government works for the people, it’s paid for by the people, it’s powered by the people. It needs to communicate with the people. These are vital services by definition, the essence of what we do, whether its health services, whether its food stamps, whether its income benefits, flood (relief).
“Whether or not they can access government and understand the services could be the difference between life and death,” he added. “For many years we assumed in New York State government that it was up to the person to figure out how to communicate with the government…the roles are reversed. It’s government’s responsibility to figure out how to communicate with the person.” Cuomo’s Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights Alphonso David will work with the agencies to help them put the Executive Order into effect. Participating state agencies include, but are not limited to: the Office of Children & Family Services; Department of Labor; Department of Motor Vehicles; Division of State Police; Department of Education; and Division of Housing & Community Renewal. Seventeen other agencies are slated to implement language access services.
The provisions will be installed on a rolling basis, with a year timetable for each agency to make the changes. Each participating agency has received a bulk discount to pay for translation and interpretation services, which will help make the implementation of the services affordable and efficient.
“This is a really historical moment for all the people of the state from Buffalo all the way down to Long Island,” said Assembly Felix Ortiz, D-Brooklyn. “They are seeing a real change” to “ensure that they can have access to resources in our state government…It is important that we remove all barriers to all those who will want to live and do business here.
“It is about time we have leadership that will take charge to make sure that New Yorkers will recognize the importance of languages in our state.”
Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, also spoke at the signing event.
“This policy is a really important one that helps not only immigrants, but it will be good for all of us. Millions of people will have better access to the wonderful and critical services that New York state has to offer…we’re so proud because this policy, if you compare to what’s going on in the rest of the country, is a comprehensive policy in scope of what it covers and it has a timetable and it has an implementation plan. So it’s a very strong policy that immigrant communities are happy to back and support.”
Cuomo closed the conference by asking members of his cabinet and state lawmakers to join him in the front of the room while he signed the Executive Order.
“It truly is my honor as governor of the state of New York to sign an executive order that will have vital services provided by this state government translated by 27 agencies into six languages to make sure we’re serving the people. It’s our fundamental obligation,” Cuomo said.

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