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Language Access Assistance

Language Access Assistance


On October 6, 2011, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued Executive Order 26, which directed 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.

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; and
  • notices advising LEP individuals of free language assistance services.”


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

According to the Executive Order, vital documents must be provided "in the six 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, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Haitian-Creole, Bengali, and Korean are the six 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 Spanish, traditional Chinese, Russian, Haitian-Creole, Bengali, and Korean. Some printed materials are available in other languages. Language interpretation services are provided in more than 200 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 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.”


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