State agency websites in New York may soon be required to offer translations into the top 12 languages spoken by residents in the state under a bill approved by the Democratic-led state Senate on Monday.
The bill would translate New York government websites as access as become more important for government information amid the ongoing pandemic, the measure's sponsors said.
COVID-19 related information would be translated within 30 days of passage; all state agency websites would have to adhere to the translation within 90 days.
“Every single New Yorker should be able to access information about COVID-19, negotiate housing information, and utilize government services related to pandemic recovery, but right now, if you can’t read English, you are out of luck," said Sen. Brad Hoylman, the main sponsor of the bill in the Senate and a candidate for Manhattan borough president. "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 this pandemic."
The measure must still be approved in the Democratic-controlled state Assembly before heading to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk for his consideration.
“Language assistance services are the difference between existing in a place and truly feeling that you belong," said Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou. "With this bill, Senator Hoylman has sent a message to the 4 million New Yorkers who speak one of the top 12 world languages: You belong here. That should be our goal in everything we do as lawmakers, and this legislation embodies those values."