New York City Invests $4 Million in Language Access

In an attempt to improve its communication efforts with multilingual families and students with limited English proficiency (LEP), New York City is investing $4 million into language access measures as part of a program called Language Access for All.

Language Access for All, which was launched Nov. 30, was devised with the aim of improving accommodations for students who live in families where English is not the primary household language — a community of students which makes up about 40% of all New York City children in the city’s public education system. The investment is spearheaded by the city council and the city’s Department of Education.

“One of the great things about our schools is their incredible breadth of diversity — so many of our families speak different languages at home and it’s essential that they have what they need to be active partners in their child’s education,” said Meisha Porter, the city’s schools chancellor. “This historic investment will help us better support each and every one of our students while strengthening our work with families and communities across New York City.”

The investment is one of, if not the, city’s largest investments in language access for students to date, and it will take on a four-pronged approach to communicating with and reaching out to multilingual families. According to Staten Island Live, the program will develop city-wide “know your rights” campaigns, expand the language access capabilities within school facilities, improve communication outlets to better reach multilingual families, and provide workshops and language support to multilingual families.

In addition to this investment, the city’s Department of Education also announced that it would be improving the reach of translation services for individualized education programs (IEPs) — by expanding its central Translation and Interpretation Unit, the department will be able to provide translated versions of IEPs to any student’s family in their preferred languages.

“The department’s four-pronged approach to supporting families whose primary language is not English will ensure that multilingual students’ needs are met, that school staff are equipped with the tools to support these students, and that families are engaged,” said Corey Johnson, the council speaker.

Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is a writer from Sacramento. He received his B.A. in linguistics and English from UCLA and is currently working toward an M.A. in applied linguistics at Columbia University. His writing has been published in Language Magazine, Sactown Magazine, and The Takeout.

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