GOV. BROWN SIGNS BILL TO PROTECT RIGHTS OF LIMITED ENGLISH SPEAKERS

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GOV. BROWN SIGNS BILL TO PROTECT RIGHTS OF LIMITED ENGLISH SPEAKERS

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus, to protect the rights of Californians with limited English proficiency by strengthening how they can report language barrier problems with state government.

“All Californians deserve to be part of our civic process whether they speak English or not,” said Ting. “By creating better ways for state agencies to be held accountable for their treatment of English language learners, we can better protect the rights of all Californians. Unfortunately, language barriers are so pervasive now that many Californians cannot even articulate when problems exist.”

California is among the most linguistically diverse states in the nation. According to the United States Census, 6.5 million California residents speak English less than very well. That equates to one out of every five residents.

Supported by a the Asian Law Caucus, the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Chinese for Affirmative Action and the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, Ting’s AB 2253 requires state agencies to make translated forms available to Californians with limited English language skills so that they can report language barriers experienced in accessing state services, both in person and online.

Under current state law, the Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act, all California residents must have equal access to public services. Every agency must have a sufficient number of qualified bilingual staff and translated written materials so that English language learners are able to effectively access and communicate with government. However, a 2010 state audit found that state agencies are not meeting their responsibilities. In a state where over 1.3 million residents have limited English proficiency, only 43 language access complaints were filed over a four year period.

In its last report to the State Legislature, the California Department of Human Resources also found that 77% of agencies serve a substantial number of limited English proficiency Californians and that 80% have a bilingual staffing deficiency.

This marks Ting’s second language access bill signed into law by Governor Brown this year. Ting’s AB 2102 will help the state provide linguistically and culturally appropriate health care.

Further information about this legislation is available at www.leginfo.ca.gov.

Contacts: Anthony Matthews (primary), tel. (916) 319-2019, anthony.matthews@asm.ca.gov

Jade Wu, tel. (415) 557-2312, jade.wu@asm.ca.gov