Expanding Language Access at City Agencies

This week, Local Law 30 went into effect, requiring City agencies that provide direct services to the public to translate their most commonly distributed documents into the top 10 citywide languages.

The top languages, based on an assessment of U.S. Census and NYC Department of Education data, are Arabic, Urdu, French, Polish, and the six languages previously required under City law (Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Bengali, Haitian Creole, and Korean). Giving residents of diverse backgrounds the tools they need to communicate efficiently and effectively with City agencies enables more capable, inclusive service of the multilingual communities that make up New York.

Today, the City is speaking to more New Yorkers in their language than ever before — a step that is consistent with the de Blasio Administration’s commitment to serving all residents equitably. This local law will mean that more New Yorkers with limited English proficiency can access City services in their language, especially important in engaging newer immigrant families, as we also continue to connect them to English language learning opportunities. The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, alongside the Mayor’s Office of Operations, is proud to assist City agencies in implementing the new law.
– Commissioner Nisha Agarwal

Language Access is Critical for NYC’s Diverse Communities.

  • Three out of every five New Yorkers are immigrants or children of immigrants.
  • Nearly one in four New Yorkers have limited English proficiency.
  • The new law’s additional language requirements for Arabic, Urdu, French, and Polish will mean that 86 percent (up from 81 percent) of New Yorkers with limited English proficiency have access to documents in their own language.
  • Based on 2015 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, approximately 100,000 New Yorkers may be directly impacted by this increased access to City services in their native languages.
  • These new language access requirements have been written in to the Administrative Code as a permanent part of City law.
  • The law builds on the groundwork laid by Executive Order 120, which required language services to be available in 6 languages.

The Mayor’s Office is Ensuring Language Access Across City Government.

The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the Mayor’s Office of Operations are working with City agencies to guide implementation of the new language access law — which formally went into effect on July 1, 2017 — by convening agency language access coordinators, developing guidance materials, sharing agency best practices, and discussing solutions to language access challenges.

The new law also requires that City agencies providing direct public services provide telephonic interpretation in at least 100 languages and develop a language access implementation plan to be posted to their agency website. MOIA and Operations will continue to review agencies’ language access implementation plans and reports to ensure that expanded language access services move forward across the City in a cohesive manner.