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Division of Immigrant Policies and Affairs

Language Access

What is Language Access?

On October 6, 2011, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 26, which directed state agencies to provide language assistance services (translation and interpretation) to people of Limited English Proficiency (LEP). LEP individuals are identified in a Language Access Plan developed by each agency.

Interpretation versus translation:

Interpretation is spoken and translation is written.  Affected agencies should provide an interpreter for any language. This service is primarily provided by phone. They should also translate select vital documents into specific languages. The languages are those that agencies identify in their plans as the most widely used by LEP individuals who access their services.

What is considered a vital document?

The U.S. Department of Justice  Language Access Assistance Guide states, “vital written documents include, but are not limited to:

  • consent and complaint forms;
  • intake and application forms with the potential for important consequences;
  • written notices of rights;
  • notices of denials, losses, or decreases in benefits or services;
  • notices of disciplinary action;
  • signs; and
  • notices advising LEP individuals of free language assistance services.”

1-888-469-7365
Get Free Language Assistance
  • Español (Spanish)
    Llámenos al 1-888-469-7365 si necesita ayuda gratis en su idioma.
  • 中文 (Chinese)
    請給我們打電話號碼 : 1-888-469-7365, 要求免費的語言協助服務。
  • Русский (Russian)
    Чтобы получить бесплатные переводческие услуги, позвоните, пожалуйста, по следующему номеру: 1-888-469-7365
  • Italiano (Italian)
    Chiamare il 1-888-469-7365 per assistenza linguistica gratuita.
  • Kreyòl ayisyen (Haitian-Creole)
    Tanpri rele nou na�o 1-888-469-7365 pou jwenn sèvis èd gratis nan lang
  • 한국어 (Korean)
    전화 1-888-469-7365 로 무료 언어 지원 서비스를 요청하십시오.
  • Polski (Polish)
    Pod numerem telefonu 1-888-469-7365 otrzymają Państwo bezpłatną pomoc językową.

What are the top languages into which agencies will translate vital documents?

At the moment, Spanish, traditional Chinese, Russian, Haitian-Creole, Korean and Italian are the top six languages.

This is based on US Census data and may change over time. Some agencies may also choose to add additional languages based on their experience and other federal requirements.

Important dates:

The executive order was signed by the governor on October 6, 2011. It makes the effective date of all agency plans October 5, 2012 (365 days from signing).  Agencies will update their plans every two years thereafter.

Affected agencies:

The 41 agencies are listed below:

  • Adirondack Park Agency
  • Commission on Correction
  • Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities
  • Council on the Arts
  • Department of Agriculture & Markets
  • Department of Civil Service
  • Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
  • Department of Economic Development
  • Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Department of Financial Services
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Department of Public Service
  • Department of State
  • Department of Taxation and Finance
  • Department of Transportation
  • Division of Criminal Justice Services
  • Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
  • Division of Homes and Community Renewal
  • Division of Human Rights
  • Division of Lottery
  • Division of Military and Naval Affairs
  • Division of State Police
  • Insurance Fund
  • Office for People with Developmental Disabilities
  • Office for Technology
  • Office for the Aging
  • Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
  • Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services
  • Office of Children and Family Services
  • Office of Medicaid Inspector General
  • Office of Mental Health
  • Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
  • Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
  • Office of the Inspector General
  • Office of Victim Services
  • Public Employment Relations Board
  • Racing and Wagering Board
  • Veterans’ Affairs
  • Workers’ Compensation Board

Who's making sure this happens?

Each agency has a Language Access Coordinator to oversee the agency's Language Access Plan.  The Deputy Secretary of Civil Rights in the Governor's Office will make sure each agency complies with the order.

Agencies also have uniform documents to help people identify the services that are available.  Posters, notices, and complaint forms are all the same, so people can easily identify and recognize them.

What if someone does not receive adequate language assistance?

Those who feel that we have not provided adequate interpretation services, or have denied them access to an available translated document, may submit a complaint form to give us their feedback.

Thanks for the feedback! It will help us improve your experience.