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NYC council seeks easy translations on city websites

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito speaks to reporters as

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito speaks to reporters as she announces that the City Council votes on a bill to require increased language access to city websites, in the City Hall on Feb. 24, 2016. Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Non-English speakers would be able to read city-run websites in at least seven other languages — via a Google Translate button placed on the sites — under a bill passed Wednesday by the City Council.

Legislation sponsor Jumaane Williams said providing translations in languages that could include Spanish, Chinese, Yiddish and Arabic would mean “equal access to city services regardless of one’s background.” He said 49 percent of New York City residents speak a language other than English at home.

The bill does not mandate the use of Google Translate, and the city could swap in similar software, said a spokeswoman for Williams (D-Brooklyn).

The proposed changes are not projected to cost anything.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is committed to providing New Yorkers with “access to up-to-date information — in their language.” She would not confirm that he will sign the bill.

Other council members, including Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan), on Wednesday introduced a bill requiring simultaneous translation of city meetings and hearings into the three most commonly spoken languages.


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