Erie County, NY—Today, the Language Access Working Group and Buffalo Public Schools gathered at Lafayette High School to hold a language access town hall in support of the Erie County and New York State language access bills. The event included a panel discussion of refugee and immigrant community leaders impacted by a lack of language access in Erie County and New York State. Advocates spoke out in support of the Erie County Language Access Act and State Language Access Bill S3381 which will provide equitable language access across Erie County and New York State government agencies, so that all Erie County and New York residents have equal access to services regardless of their language proficiency.
The Language Access Working Group is composed of representatives from the New York Immigration Coalition, Partnership for the Public Good, Buffalo Immigrant and Refugee Leadership Team, Burmese Community Services, ACCESS of WNY, UB School of Social Work, International Institute of Buffalo, Journey’s End Refugee Services and Deaf Access Services.
The rally was streamed on Facebook Live, and photos are available here.
“Language access is one of the most critical tools to ensure every New Yorker is included and can fully participate in civic life,” said Dejia James, Manager of Organizing and Strategy WNY, New York Immigration Coalition. “From Erie County to across New York State, no one should be prevented from accessing critical services simply because of the language they speak. As immigrants and refugees from across the world continue to make Erie County and New York State home, the Erie County Language Access Act and statewide language access legislation are monumental steps forward in championing equity, signaling a deep commitment to inclusion and strengthening community life. We thank the refugee and immigrant community leaders for sharing their experiences today and for highlighting the urgent need for expanded language access across our state, which will open up the doors of local and state government services to all.”