Jennifer Ulrich, IIB’s Lead Coordinator of Interpreting and Translation, represented the International Institute of Buffalo in voting for expanded language access in New York during a Partnership for the Public Good meeting to select 2024 community agenda proposals. The proposal, represented in Plank 15, was submitted by the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) and focuses on leveling the field when it comes to understanding and accessing critical information.
During the meeting, Ulrich explained why voting for the policy was so important.
“Plank #15 improves language access in Erie County and is relevant to all the other planks presented today, from housing insecurity to mental health crisis intervention, and a vote for plank 15 is a vote for all of the other planks,” she said.
The New York Immigration Coalition’s supporting rationale explained how the new policy will help locally:
“[It will] create a job pipeline for interpreters and translators. Develop a bilingual workforce in the Buffalo-Niagara region. By passing a local law requiring that all Erie County departments and services adopt a language access plan, the county will ensure that all residents regardless of their language will have equal access to services. The language access plans will allow each department to decide how best to meet the language needs of residents and are flexible to accommodate the unique needs of that department or agency.”
The International Institute of Buffalo has a history of advancing increased language access policies to ensure refugee and immigrant community members have opportunities to thrive. Executive Director Jennifer Rizzo-Choi extolled the importance of local governments expanding language services to constituents who speak languages other than English. Click here for a Spectrum News report. Census Bureau data for 2020 showed around 11% of residents in Erie County speak a language other than English at home.
The Partnership for The Public Good is scheduled to reveal voting results and its official 2024 community agenda in January.
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