Curran Announces Comprehensive Language Access Implementation Plan
Plan sets robust threshold of compliance for all County agencies to provide oral interpretation in every language, translation of vital documents in 6 major languages, services for hearing/vision-impaired
Deputy County Attorney Rudy Carmenaty to Serve as Language Access Coordinator
Mineola, NY – Nassau County Executive Laura Curran today announced Rudy Carmenaty, Deputy County Attorney and Director of Legal Services at the Nassau County Department of Social Services (DSS), to lead the County Executive’s initiative to fully implement Executive Orders 67-2013 and 72-2013, which call for the provision of language access services. Nassau County is home to over 130,000 residents who may need language assistance.
County Executive Curran’s Comprehensive Language Access Policy will ensure that Nassau residents, regardless of their competency in English, have meaningful and timely access to essential County programs, services and activities in such fields as public health, Police protection, emergency assistance, social services, and assistance for the disabled.
Nassau is committed to providing oral interpretation in every language, and, at a minimum, the translation of vital county documents into the six most frequently spoken languages in Nassau other than English. As determined by the U.S. Census, the six languages are Spanish, Haitian Creole, Korean, Italian, Persian (Farsi), and Simplified Chinese. These services will be provided free of charge.
“Without a strong language access program, a child can go hungry because their parent couldn’t complete an application for food assistance, a patient could be misdiagnosed due to language barriers, and a victim of domestic violence may struggle to file a Police report or obtain an Order of Protection,” said County Executive Curran. “This is a critical civil rights obligation that Nassau is now meeting, and it demonstrates our commitment to serving every resident equally. I’m thrilled that we’ll have a committed public servant and brilliant legal mind like Rudy Carmenaty to lead our language access implementation.”
“I am honored by this opportunity to be of service and I thank the County Executive for her confidence in me,” said Rudy Carmenaty. “Being the child of Cuban immigrants, I know firsthand how important language access is. As an attorney, I know what a difference it can make in someone’s life when county government is able to communicate in their language. With this comprehensive initiative, Nassau County becomes more responsive to the needs of its residents as well as more welcoming and inclusive.”
“The need for implementation of a comprehensive language access plan has never been greater in our County,” said Gabriela Castillo, Executive Director of the Executive Director of Nassau County “CASA”, also known as the Office of Hispanic Affairs. “Nassau is home to a variety of cultures and spoken languages. As such, we should strive to serve our residents in a competent manner that ensures our residents have equal access to local government and vital services they need. This implementation plan is the first step in doing just that, and we are committed to working with County Executive Curran, colleagues within the county, and community stakeholders in order to achieve the goal of fully-implemented language access.”
“If someone cannot speak English fluently, they might not be able to access the same services as a fluent English speaker,” said Farrah Mozawalla, Director of the Asian American Advisory Board. “Language access empowers the constituent as it allows for him/her to be on an equal footing in the communications process. It’s a great step towards creating a more inclusive Nassau.”
“Language access is an important part of our on-going efforts to support our minority communities and ensure their participation in County business opportunities and programs,” said Regina Williams, Deputy Director of the Office of Minority Affairs.
County Executive Curran’s new implementation plan sets a threshold standard of compliance for all executive departments, county offices, agencies, boards and commissions under the jurisdiction of the County Executive. A robust and inclusive policy will be in place wherein reasonable measures will be undertaken, in accordance with applicable law, to provide Nassau residents with language access services in a meaningful and timely manner.
The new language access policy considers issues concerning the visually impaired by calling for large print (18 point) versions of vital county documents and for the hearing impaired by providing American Sign Language Interpretation either through the Mill Neck Interpreter Services or via LanguageLine Solutions products. LanguageLine Solutions is a service which has been contracted to provide interpretation by telephone or video as well as the translation of county documents. Nassau County has a Blanket Purchase order with LanguageLine. In 2018, DSS spent approximately $4,200 per month for a total of over $51,000.00 on language access services provided by LanguageLine Solutions.
According to the 2013 U.S. Census American Community Survey, 27.9% of County residents over 5 years old speak a language other than English at home. While many of these individuals may speak, read or understand some English, they may experience difficulty understanding complex forms and instructions, or be challenged by explaining themselves proficiently during times of crisis. Even those who are fluent in English may find that their skills falter in unfamiliar or intimidating situations, such as in legal proceedings, when receiving a healthcare diagnosis, during encounters with law enforcement agents, or in contacts with local, state, or federal government.
In 2013, the Mangano administration issued Executive Orders 67 and 72 to provide language access assistance to Nassau County residents. However, the orders where inconsistently implemented.
Nassau will engage in active efforts to notify the public about this policy. The County will advance a concerted and diverse promotional campaign in the six languages other than English spoken in Nassau County to publicize that language access service are available and are free of charge. Taken together, the objective of this policy is to make full language access a tangible reality for all Nassau County residents so such residents are substantively on par with residents who can competently communicate in English
Rudy Carmenaty is the Director of Legal Services for the Nassau County Department of Social Services and a Bureau Chief in the Office of the Nassau County Attorney. Carmenaty has been instrumental in efforts to implement language access at the Department of Social Services. He has aided in developing language access plans for Nassau County’s Departments of Human Services, the County Attorney, and provided information and assistance to the Office of the Nassau County Comptroller. Carmenaty received his law degree from Columbia Law School, and has been admitted to the Bar of the State of New York and the Bar of the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC.