New York City is home to communities from every corner of the globe, speaking a myriad of languages. More than a quarter of the city’s population is not proficient in English. How can you access the city’s basic services for its residents if you don’t speak English? New York City and New York State have passed innovative laws that guarantee everyone the right to an interpreter when accessing government services. But most agencies are only creeping toward compliance with these laws, and many immigrant communities are unaware of their right to an interpreter and routinely denied access to services because they don’t speak English.
In the fall of 2012, CUP teamed up with the Language Access Project at Legal Services NYC and designer Melissa Gorman to create a tool that helps people stand up to discrimination and access the services they need. Language Rights are Civil Rights! is a wallet-size foldout that explains language rights laws and that can be used to ask for an interpreter. The foldout is fully translated into Spanish, Chinese, Bengali, Russian, Arabic, Haitian Creole, Urdu, Korean, Polish, and French – the 10 most commonly spoken languages of the city’s limited English proficient population.
Language Rights are Civil Rights! is being distributed by Legal Services – NYC and partner organizations throughout the city.