State Expands Language Access; Hate-Crime Virtual Forum Set

New York State will expand the number of languages covered by its language access policy from six to 10.

The added languages are Yiddish, Arabic, Italian and Polish, joining the six— Bengali, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, and Spanish–that were previously covered by a policy set by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2011.

An estimated 2.5 million New Yorkers speak languages other than English as their primary language and have limited ability to speak, read, write, or understand English. This can make it difficult or impossible for those individuals to access important government benefits and services.

Under the governor’s directive, state agencies that provide direct public services will be required to translate vital documents, including forms and other documents that are key to accessing state services, into at least the top ten languages most commonly spoken by New Yorkers with limited English. The policy also requires agencies to provide free interpretation services to those seeking access to state services.

At 3 p.m. Tuesday,  a virtual public forum will address recent hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islanders

“The disturbing rise in hate crimes against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities in our State and across the nation is nothing short of disgusting and are being committed by those seeking to spread fear, hate and division,”  Cuomo said. “In New York, our diversity has always been our greatest strength, and we will never let these vile, cowardly attacks divide us. No one should ever feel threatened because of who they are, how they look or what language they speak.

The forum will be hosted by the Division of Human Rights and address the exponential increase in hate incidents targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in recent months.  One recent report has documented nearly 4,000 such incidents across the country since the pandemic started in March 2020. 

The discussion will be led by Division of Human Rights Interim Commissioner Johnathan J. Smith and will feature leading subject matter experts, including Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of Asian American Federation, Scott Richman, Regional Director of the NY/NJ Chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, and Sim J. Singh, Senior Manager of Policy & Advocacy at the Sikh Coalition, among others.

“There is no place for hate in New York,” Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said. “We stand with the Asian American & Pacific Islander community as a beacon of hope to others. We will do everything we can to boost resources for victims of hate crimes and condemn discrimination in our state.”

Cuomo also launched a new hotline, 1-877-NO-HATE-NY, that New Yorkers can call to report a hate crime or if they have knowledge of a potential bias attack.  To report other issues of bias or discrimination, visit the Division’s website here, call 1-888-392-3644, or text HATE to 81336.


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