Sen. Chang on bill to expand language accessibility requirements

LANSING, Mich. – State Sen. Stephanie Chang (D–Detroit) today issued the following statement on Senate Bill 45, which would require that all state departments and agencies provide equal access to government services for English language learners, including Michigan residents with limited English proficiency.

“We live in a wonderfully diverse state — one that includes a large, and growing, immigrant population. A critical part of truly being a welcoming state is that we help make our government more accessible to every Michigander. Language should not be a barrier and every single resident, regardless of ability to read or understand English, can obtain the government services they need and deserve for their family.”

In 2013, Michigan’s state courts were ordered to implement language access plans. SB 45 will ensure that all state departments and agencies make a reasonable effort to accommodate non-English speakers, English language learners and limited English-proficient residents of Michigan. Departmental language access plans could include oral language services and translating vital documents into languages spoken by Limited English Proficient populations that constitute at least 3 percent of the population in that geographic area, or 1,000 or more people served by that local office.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 5-year dataset for 2009-2013, 843,256 Michiganders aged five years and older, or 9.1 percent of the population, speak another language besides English at home.

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