Two New York lawmakers want to ensure that New Yorkers who do not speak English as their primary language have access to the latest information about COVID-19.
New York Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou introduced legislation this month requiring the state to translate all websites for non-English speakers, especially pages dealing with anything related to the pandemic. The bill requires state agencies to provide translations of all COVID-19 information within 30 days.
“More than five million New Yorkers live in households where the primary language isn’t English,” Hoylman said. “That’s why we can’t let language be a barrier to life-saving information, especially during the current pandemic.”
Currently, the state website featuring information about eligibility for COVID vaccines includes a drop-down language component. However, several other sites, including New York’s main coronavirus website, do not.
New York Govenor Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly noted that minority communities have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 crisis and that the state is attempting to fight vaccine hesitancy in immigrant, Latino, and Black communities.
“Making information available to the state’s residents who speak a language other than English could go a long way to achieving those goals,” Hoylman said.
Niou said her office has been inundated with phone calls from constituents who have had trouble navigating the state websites, especially as the public seeks information about vaccines.
“There is a tremendous gap between those who have the resources and ability to access the resources we have available and those who do not,” Niou said. “It’s essential that we promote equity and provide culturally sensitive, language accessible information and services in our online resources and information, especially when it comes to issues related to COVID-19.”
Author: Slattery, Denis
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