Increasing Online Language Accessibility: ACCESS NYC Now in Eleven Languages

NYC Opportunity
Feb 14, 2018 · 2 min read
Find help with food, money, housing, work and over 40 programs on ACCESS NYC.

ACCESS NYC, the City’s public benefits eligibility screening and information tool, is now available in 4 additional languages: Bengali, French, Polish, and Urdu. This makes ACCESS NYC the first website in the City to be fully compliant under Local Law 30, which requires documents and services distributed to the public by City agencies be made available in 11 languages.

The addition of the 4 languages will impact an estimated 122,000 New Yorkers. Now an estimated 86% of New Yorkers can use ACCESS NYC in their primary language, an increase from 79% previously.¹

People use ACCESS NYC to screen for benefits that they rely on to to feed and house their families. Nearly 20 percent of New York City’s 8.5 million people live in poverty, and nearly 45 percent live in near poverty, below 150% of the poverty threshold (according to our NYC Government Poverty Measure, 2005–2015).

By providing information in commonly spoken languages other than English, our goal is to enable more New Yorkers to complete the screening process, discover benefits they may be eligible for, and enroll in these programs.

ACCESS NYC supports these 11 languages: English, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Traditional), French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu.

ACCESS NYC works in 11 languages on any device.

NYC Opportunity’s Product Team and Service Design Studio worked with program experts from City agencies and plain language editors from the NYC Mayor’s Office of the CTO to ensure that content and program information is accurate, written in plain language, and implemented in a scalable way. With over 450 pages of content, efficiency is a priority. The content is managed and stored through the Benefits and Programs API, a publicly available dataset.

We also wanted to make sure that the translated content was nuanced and grammatically correct. We didn’t use an automated translation tool, such as Google Translate, on the site. Instead, we partnered with Geneva Worldwide to provide translation by professional linguists and assist with quality assurance review.

By leading the adoption of new languages and increasing accessibility, we hope to serve as a model for providing better services in a scalable way.

Interested in putting your data, design, and digital skills into service to build more tools like ACCESS NYC? The team is hiring.

¹ “Top Languages Spoken at Home by the Limited English Proficient (LEP) Population Universe: Population 5 years and over 2014 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata 1-Year Sample New York City and Boroughs”, NYC Planning,

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