Lost in Translation: We Need Meaningful Language Access in NYC, Gotham Gazette

By Council Member Sandra Ung

People from across the world come to New York City to build a new life, bringing with them their customs, cultures, and traditions. Our newest neighbors also bring with them their own languages, contributing to the wonderful diversity of our city, but also presenting a unique set of challenges as families build their new lives.

Take my district in Flushing, which has more than 70,000 “limited English proficiency” Asian New Yorkers, roughly 70% of the total Asian population in the district. A recent report by the Asian American Federation found that two-thirds of Asian seniors need help translating English into one of 12 languages. This doesn’t only present barriers to accessing services, it isolates them in their homes and presents challenges economically, socially, and physically.