•  Summary 
  •  Actions 
  •  Committee Votes 
  •  Floor Votes 
  •  Memo 
  •  Text 
  •  LFIN 
  •  Chamber Video/Transcript 

A03436 Summary:

COSPNSRGottfried, Weprin, Cruz
Ren §301 to be §302, add §301, Exec L
Requires state agencies that directly serve the public to enact policies to ensure that people who do not speak English well receive the interpretation and translation services they need in order to access vital government programs.
Go to top

A03436 Text:

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions
                   IN ASSEMBLY
                                    January 26, 2021
        Introduced  by  M. of A. KIM, GOTTFRIED, WEPRIN -- Multi-Sponsored by --
          M. of A. ABBATE -- read once and referred to the Committee on  Govern-
          mental Operations
        AN  ACT to amend the executive law, in relation to requiring state agen-
          cies that directly serve the public to enact policies to  ensure  that
          people  who  do  not speak English well receive the interpretation and
          translation services they need in order  to  access  vital  government
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
     1    Section 1. Section 301 of the executive law is renumbered section  302
     2  and a new section 301 is added to read as follows:
     3    §  301.  Agency  language interpretation. 1. Definitions.   As used in
     4  this section: (a) "Agency covered language" shall mean every non-English
     5  language used by a limited English proficient  population  that  consti-
     6  tutes  five  percent  or one thousand individuals, whichever is less, of
     7  the population served or encountered, or likely to be served or encount-
     8  ered, by the agency.
     9    (b) "Agency" shall mean any statewide government  agency,  department,
    10  or  program that furnishes information or renders services, programs, or
    11  activities directly to the public  or  contracts  with  other  entities,
    12  either  directly or indirectly, to conduct programs, services, or activ-
    13  ities, and all political subdivisions and local entities of such  state-
    14  wide  government  agency,  department, or program. Agencies include, but
    15  are not limited to: the office for the aging; the  office  of  addiction
    16  services  and  supports;  the  office of attorney general; the office of
    17  children and family services; the  city  university  of  New  York;  the
    18  department of corrections and community supervision; the office of court
    19  administration;  the  division of criminal justice services; the depart-
    20  ment of education; the board of elections; department of family  assist-
    21  ance;  the  department  of health; the division of housing and community
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        A. 3436                             2
     1  renewal; the division of  human  rights;  the  department  of  financial
     2  services;  the  department  of  labor;  the  metropolitan transportation
     3  authority; the department of motor vehicles; the office of parks, recre-
     4  ation  and historic preservation; the port authority of New York and New
     5  Jersey; office for  the  prevention  of  domestic  violence;  office  of
     6  probation  and  correctional alternatives; the division of state police;
     7  the state university of New York; the office of temporary and disability
     8  assistance; and the division of veteran's affairs.
     9    (c) "Competent interpretation" shall mean a  trans-language  rendition
    10  of  a  spoken  message  in  which the interpreter comprehends the source
    11  language and can speak comprehensively in the target language to  convey
    12  the meaning intended in the source language. The interpreter knows rele-
    13  vant  terminology  and  provides  accurate  interpretations  by choosing
    14  equivalent expressions that convey the best matching and meaning to  the
    15  source  language  and  captures,  to  the  greatest possible extent, all
    16  nuances intended in the source message.
    17    (d) "Competent translation" shall mean a trans-language rendition of a
    18  written message in which the translator comprehends the source  language
    19  and can write comprehensively in the target language to convey the mean-
    20  ing  intended  in  the  source  language.  The translator knows relevant
    21  terminology and provides accurate translations  by  choosing  equivalent
    22  expressions  that  convey  the  best  matching and meaning to the source
    23  language and captures, to the  greatest  possible  extent,  all  nuances
    24  intended in the source message.  Competent translation shall not include
    25  online  translation  tools  such as Google Translate, Yahoo! Babel Fish,
    26  and comparable services.
    27    (e) "Language assistance services" shall mean competent interpretation
    28  and translation services.
    29    (f) "Limited English proficient individual" or "LEP individual"  shall
    30  mean  an  individual  who does not read, write, speak, and/or understand
    31  the English language at a level that permits him or her  to  communicate
    32  effectively with the agency.
    33    (g)  "Primary  language"  shall  mean  the language in which a limited
    34  English proficient individual prefers to communicate.
    35    (h) "Vital documents" shall mean printed  and  online  documents  that
    36  provide  information  necessary  to  access  or participate in services,
    37  programs, and activities of an agency,  including  but  not  limited  to
    38  applications,  corresponding  instructional  materials, legal contracts,
    39  stipulations, outreach materials, and written notices  or  letters  that
    40  affect or relate to the legal rights or benefits of an individual or the
    41  agency's  services,  programs or benefits and which are used or intended
    42  to be used for communicating with individuals or the public.
    43    2. Interpretation services. (a) Every agency shall  provide  competent
    44  interpretation  at  all  stages of the LEP individual's interaction with
    45  the agency and at no cost to the LEP individual. Such  competent  inter-
    46  pretation  must  be provided promptly but need not be provided in person
    47  or face-to-face in order to meet the requirements of this section.
    48    (b) Minor children shall not be used to interpret at any time,  except
    49  in  an  extreme  emergency.  If  minor children are used to interpret, a
    50  record shall be kept of the incident in the individual's case  file,  if
    51  one exists.
    52    (c)  The  agency  is  prohibited from requiring that an LEP individual
    53  provide his or her own interpretation services.
    54    (d) Use of untrained or informal interpreters such as  the  family  or
    55  friends  of  an  LEP individual shall be actively discouraged. If an LEP
    56  individual chooses to use an informal interpreter after  being  notified

        A. 3436                             3
     1  of  the availability of free, timely and competent interpretation, he or
     2  she must complete a waiver that is signed by a manager at the agency and
     3  by the LEP individual.
     4    3.  Language  access  plan.  (a) Each agency shall publish, and update
     5  every two years, with the first plan being developed within one  hundred
     6  eighty  days  of  the  effective date of this section, a language access
     7  plan that will reflect how the agency will comply with the provisions of
     8  this section and all progress made since the  agency  last  submitted  a
     9  language access plan.
    10    (b)  Each  language  access plan shall be written in consultation with
    11  the state chief diversity officer, the statewide language access  direc-
    12  tor,  the  agency's language access coordinator, the local subdivisions'
    13  language access coordinators, and the directors that conduct outreach to
    14  limited English proficient populations.
    15    (c) Each language access plan shall set forth, at minimum, the follow-
    16  ing:
    17    (1) when and by what means the agency will provide language assistance
    18  services and an explanation as to how this determination was reached;
    19    (2) the titles of all available translated documents  and  the  corre-
    20  sponding languages into which they have been translated;
    21    (3)  the  number  of  public  contact  positions in the agency and the
    22  number of bilingual employees in public contact positions, including the
    23  languages they speak;
    24    (4) documentation of the language needs of the population  served  and
    25  the population eligible to be served by the agency;
    26    (5)  for agencies that provide individualized programs and services, a
    27  system for tracking the primary language of every individual  who  seeks
    28  or receives services from the agency;
    29    (6)  a  training plan for agency employees which includes, at minimum,
    30  annual training on the language access policies of the agency and how to
    31  provide language assistance services;
    32    (7) a language access coordinator at the agency, who shall be publicly
    33  identified;
    34    (8) if outreach is conducted by the agency, a  multi-lingual  outreach
    35  plan  to  LEP communities regarding the benefits and services offered by
    36  the agency and the language services provided;
    37    (9) a description of the funding and budgetary sources upon which  the
    38  agency intends to rely to implement its language access plan;
    39    (10)  a  detailed  plan for annual internal monitoring of the agency's
    40  compliance with this order; and
    41    (11) an explanation of any areas of current non-compliance,  including
    42  complaints  received  and their disposition, the reasons for non-compli-
    43  ance and steps to be taken to remedy  areas  of  non-compliance,  and  a
    44  request  for  approval  of  expected future non-compliance, to which the
    45  statewide language access director shall respond within  sixty  days  of
    46  the request.
    47    (d) At a minimum each agency shall maintain records of all information
    48  necessary  to  complete  and  verify  the  information  set forth in the
    49  language access plan.
    50    4. Agency's language access coordinator. Each agency shall designate a
    51  language access coordinator, who shall report directly to  the  director
    52  of  the  agency.    The responsibilities of the agency's language access
    53  coordinator shall include:
    54    (a) general oversight of the agency's language access plan;

        A. 3436                             4
     1    (b) for statewide agencies, oversight, central coordination, and tech-
     2  nical assistance to the agency's political subdivision and  local  enti-
     3  ties in their implementation of the provisions of this section;
     4    (c) ensuring that the provision of language assistance services by the
     5  agency meets acceptable standards of translation or interpretation;
     6    (d)  procurement  of  contract language services where appropriate and
     7  management of the relationship with all language service contractors;
     8    (e) tracking, monitoring and investigating public complaints regarding
     9  language access services at the agency;
    10    (f) overseeing staff training on the language  access  plan,  language
    11  policy, and how to obtain language services for LEP individuals;
    12    (g)  ensuring  that  recordkeeping and monitoring requirements of this
    13  section are complied with;
    14    (h) compiling, maintaining, and disseminating all translated documents
    15  to be used by other agency entities, including  all  local  offices  and
    16  political subdivisions; and
    17    (i)  overseeing and coordinating the agency's annual internal monitor-
    18  ing, testing and training activities.
    19    5. Monitoring and complaints. (a) The agency  shall  monitor  its  own
    20  compliance  with the requirements of this section by annually collecting
    21  data on the provision of language assistance services, the  availability
    22  of  translated  materials,  whether  signage is properly posted, and any
    23  other relevant measures. This information and any other collected during
    24  the internal monitoring process shall be made available to the statewide
    25  language access director. The monitoring  plan  shall  include  feedback
    26  from the public, community groups and other stakeholders.
    27    (b)  The  agency  shall establish a system whereby LEP individuals may
    28  submit complaints to  the  agency  regarding  language  access  services
    29  provision or lack thereof, and all such complaints shall be investigated
    30  by the agency language access coordinator and/or such individuals within
    31  the agency as the language access coordinator shall determine. The agen-
    32  cy  must  provide  all  LEP  individuals  submitting  complaints written
    33  notification of the results of any investigations  resulting  from  such
    34  complaints, including a description of the corrective action to be taken
    35  in response to the complaint, if such corrective action is required.
    36    6.  Good  cause. It shall be good cause for an individual's failure to
    37  respond to an agency inquiry  or  requirement,  failure  to  certify  or
    38  re-certify for benefits, failure to attend mandatory appointments or for
    39  an  untimely response, if the LEP individual is denied language services
    40  as required under this section.
    41    7. Statewide oversight, coordination and assistance. (a) The  director
    42  of  state  operations  shall provide oversight, central coordination and
    43  technical  assistance  to  agencies  in  their  implementation  of   the
    44  provisions  of  this  order and ensure that the provision of services by
    45  agencies meets acceptable standards of translation or interpretation.
    46    (b) There shall be a statewide language  access  director  within  the
    47  office  of  the  director of state operations, who is charged with over-
    48  sight with all agencies' compliance with the provisions of this section.
    49  The statewide language access director shall:
    50    (1) review and monitor each agency's language access plan for  compli-
    51  ance with this section and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
    52    (2)  track  and  monitor  public  complaints regarding language access
    53  violations at each agency and, where necessary, issue  written  findings
    54  of  noncompliance  to  the agency regarding failures to provide language
    55  access;

        A. 3436                             5

     1    (3) review and monitor the language access coordinators  with  respect
     2  to their performance of responsibilities under this section; and
     3    (4) facilitate sharing of best practices and interagency collaboration
     4  to improve compliance with the provisions of this section.
     5    (c)  Every  agency  shall cooperate with the statewide language access
     6  director and shall furnish such information and assistance as the state-
     7  wide language access director  determines  is  reasonably  necessary  to
     8  fulfill these duties.
     9    8.  Private  right  of  action;  complaints.  Individuals shall have a
    10  private right of action to enforce the rights granted under this section
    11  as set forth under subdivisions one through six of this section.
    12    § 2. This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day  after  it  shall
    13  have become a law.
Go to top