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.
STATE OF NEW YORK
2021-2022 Regular Sessions
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-
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.
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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
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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-
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
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;
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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
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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.