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Healey Orders Massachusetts State Agencies To Come Up With ‘Language Access Plan’ For Non-English Speakers

September 14, 2023

Each executive department state agency must identify a “Language Access Coordinator” within 30 days and develop a “Language Access Plan” with 120 days to serve people using government services who have “limited English proficiency,” according to an executive order issued by Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey.

According to the order, “one in four Massachusetts residents speaking a language other than English at home.”

Healey issued the executive order, called “Promoting Access to Government Services and Information by Identifying and Minimizing Language Access Barriers,” on Wednesday, September 13.

An immigrant advocacy organization praised the governor’s announcement but warned that “enforcement mechanisms” should be implemented to make sure state agencies comply with the governor’s order.

“The expansion of language access at public-facing state agencies will make it easier for the hundreds of thousands of non-English language speakers across the Commonwealth to access vital state services. We applaud the Healey-Driscoll Administration for making equity a cornerstone of their administration,” said Elizabeth Sweet, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, in a press release issued the same day as the governor’s executive order. “To make the most of this reform, it is critical that state leaders work to implement enforcement mechanisms that ensure agencies swiftly introduce language access — a crucial element of the policy supported by MIRA and our partners in the MassSpeaks Coalition through the Language Access and Inclusion Act.”

 

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