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Language Access Assistance

Overview

In 2022 the State Legislature adopted and Governor Hochul enacted a law directing executive branch state agencies to provide language assistance services (translation and interpretation) to people of Limited English Proficiency (LEP). Individuals of LEP are identified in a Language Access Plan developed by each agency. As a result of the law, every New Yorker is entitled to receive certain services in his or her preferred language. 

What is Language Access?

Language Access means providing LEP individuals access to the same services provided to English speakers, but in their own language. 

 

Executive Order 26 established New York’s first statewide language access policy.  It required, amongst other things:

  • Translation of vital documents in the most common non-English languages spoken by LEP individuals, and 
  • Interpreters so LEP individuals and DOL staff can actively communicate in spoken interactions

 

In addition to meeting these requirements, the DOL has established a robust Language Access Plan that also includes:

  • Free language assistance services
  • Interpretation, including on-the-spot, Video Remote Interpretation (VRI), in as many as 39 languages
  • On-the-spot Telephonic interpretation.  The DOL’s Unemployment Insurance Call Centers provide language interpretation in 179 languages.
  • Signage posted in Career Centers about the availability of language assistance services
  •  Outreach and presentations at schools, with faith-based groups, and other community organizations to expand the diversity of individuals who access DOL services
  • Social media posts directed at LEP individuals in their own language
  • Telephonic voice menus that can provide information in over 17 languages so customers can access the DOL’s Contact Center, and Unemployment Insurance Telephone Claims Center
  • Website translation in 7 languages, and
  • Language Bank, a group of DOL employees who volunteer to assist LEP customers for various language assistance needs

Limited English Proficiency (LEP)

The Department of Labor supports outreach to diverse populations and ensures that LEP individuals have access to all career center programs and activities.

 

Individuals who have difficulty communicating effectively In English may be designated as Limited English Proficient because:

  • Their primary language is not English
  • They have not developed fluency In the English language
  • They may have difficulty speaking or reading English
  • They may benefit from an interpreter who will translate to and from their primary language.
  • They may need documents translated from English into their primary language to understand important information about the service they need.

Language Access Plan

You can review the Department of Labor's current Department of Labor's Language Access Plan here:

Language Access PLan

Frequently Asked Questions

Interpretation versus Translation:

Interpretation is spoken and translation is written.  Affected agencies should provide an interpreter for any language. This service is primarily provided by telephone. The agency should also translate select vital documents into specific languages. The documents and languages they are translated into are identified in the Language Access Plan.

 

What is a vital document?

The U.S. Department of Justice Language Access Assistance Guide states, vital written documents include, but are not limited to:

  • consent and complaint forms
  • intake and application forms with the potential for important consequences
  • written notices of rights
  • notices of denials, losses, or decreases in benefits or services
  • notices of disciplinary action
  • signs
  • notices advising LEP individuals of free language assistance services.

 

What are the languages into which agencies will translate vital documents?

According to state law, vital documents must be provided in the 12 most common non-English languages spoken by individuals with limited-English proficiency in the State of New York, based on United States census data. Some agencies may also choose to translate documents into additional languages based on their experience and other federal requirements.

At the moment, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Urdu, and Yiddish are the 12 most common non-English languages spoken in the state. This is based on US Census data and may change over time.

As a result, at the Department of Labor, vital documents are provided in those 12 languages. Some printed materials are available in other languages.

 

What else is being done?

Agencies also have uniform documents to help people identify the services that are available. Posters, notices, and complaint forms are all the same, so people can easily identify and recognize them.

 

What if someone does not receive adequate language assistance?
Those who feel that we have not provided adequate interpretation services, or have denied them access to an available translated document, may submit a complaint form to give us their feedback. 
 

What should I expect if I visit the Department of Labor?

As a result of the Executive Order, every New Yorker is entitled to receive certain services in his or her preferred language.

Every State of New York office that is open to the public is required to provide interpretation at no cost to you. This includes New York State Career Centers operated by the Department of Labor and Career Centers operated by other partner agencies, such as counties. A poster should be displayed in that office called Language Identification Tool, and which says, in more than thirty languages, “Point to your language. An interpreter will be called. The interpreter is provided at no cost to you.”

Language Identification Tool posters:

11x17

8.5x11

Contact

Each agency has a Language Access Coordinator to oversee that agency's Language Access Plan.  The Deputy Secretary to the Governor for Civil Rights will make sure each agency complies with the order.

Language Access Coordinator: Eric Denk
Office phone: 607-778-2836
Mobile phone: 607-205-5491
E-Mail: [email protected]
Fax: 212-775-3389
Mailing address: 
601-635 Harry L Drive
Suite 56
Johnson City, New York 13790-1245