Rochester Latinx Leaders Roundtable Demands Equitable Language Access
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (January 5, 2022) – Latinx Leaders gathered to express their deep concern about the lack of information concerning COVID-19 for people in the Limited English Proficient (LEP) and Deaf or Hard of Hearing communities in the Greater Rochester Area. Leaders frustrated with the repeated failure to provide proper language access to this high risk and vulnerable community, urge the RCSD, county, and city officials to do more for Monroe County’s 30,000 residents in the LEP community and in the even larger Deaf or Hard of Hearing community, who do not receive the same critical information about COVID-19 in a format that they can understand.
Leaders ask again that city, county officials and district leaders prioritize the needs of people in these communities, and pursuant to Title VI Executive Order 13166 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and New York State Executive Order 26 (October 6, 2011), do the following with all due speed:
- Translate all information from the RCSD, city, county, and the county health officials regarding the COVID-19 pandemic into Spanish;
- Translate all information from the RCSD, city, county, and the county health officials regarding the COVID-19 pandemic into Somali, Nepali, and Swahili, the top three languages besides Spanish spoken in the LEP community;
- When working with populations with limited literacy, consider alternate ways on how to best communicate. This includes the use of visuals, audio recordings, and videos;
- Provide ASL interpreters during ALL live on-air updates regarding COVID-19; including on social media.
“We cannot be committed to Diversity Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility work and not fully address language barriers,” said Marlene Cortés Co-Founder of the Monroe County Language Access Coalition. “Not providing meaningful access to vital information regarding Covid to over 60,000 County residents that are Limited English Proficient or Deaf/Hard of Hearing is contributing to the system we are all trying to dismantle. The number in local positive cases is rising every day, Covid waits for no one! We must protect EVERYONE!”
“Information is power and often the key to accessing critical resources,” said Angelica Perez-Delgado President & CEO of Ibero-American Action League. “In a high-risk population that already has been disproportionately impacted, lack of language access puts our community at imminent risk and gets us further from our goal of true health equity. This has been a longstanding issue in our community and the time has come for larger systems to address it in a meaningful and sustainable way.”
“The Community Health Workers Association of Rochester is worried about the lack of proper language access to COVID-19 information for limited English proficiency community members,” said Lucia Colindres-Vasquez, Executive Director of the Community Health Workers Association of Rochester (CHWAR). “When important announcements or updates about COVID-19 are shared, many individuals get lost in translation or don’t get the information at all. Language barriers compromise health equity and access to resources such as COVID-19 testing and vaccines. Language access also compromises the quality of healthcare access for those who might be positive and are looking for resources or information. The LEP and Deaf or Hard of Hearing communities are being left behind. Many Community Health Workers come from those communities we serve, and we experience the direct impact of language barriers with our family members, close friends, and neighbors. We urge county officials, city officials, health systems, and RCSD to consider the language needs of their community members “every single time” a message goes out to the public.”
“When the pandemic began, critical information was not getting out to monolingual Spanish speakers fast enough. Ibero fought hard and translated many documents and press conferences into Spanish. The Latinx Roundtable members pushed hard at tables and zoom rooms across the county,” said Miguel Melendez Jr. Co-Chair of the Latinx Leaders Roundtable. “As we see a continued rise in cases, it is critical we maintain a commitment to share COVID related information in a multilingual and accessible format. At this point, this is non-negotiable.”
“We will no longer accept being treated as second class citizens,” said Rudy Rivera President & CEO of the Father Tracy Advocacy Center.
Rochester Latinx Leaders Roundtable issued a 53-page Latinx Agenda in October 2021 during Hispanic Heritage Month. The agenda included a collection of proposed plans and strategies to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion in a commitment to racial justice. It is a living document that is just the start in an effort to split open the communal conversation of developing advocacy strategies. With top voices from Rochester’s Latinx community that included well over 55 local Latinx leaders, it acts as a war cry of commitment to each and every local Latinx individual.
A press conference took place at the Ibero Early Childhood Center, located at 777 Clifford Ave, Rochester, N.Y. 14621 on January 5th at 2 p.m.
For additional information or media inquiries, please contact Angelica Perez-Delgado, Rochester Latinx Leaders Roundtable co-chair by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by at 585-256-8900.
About the Latinx Leaders Roundtable.
The Latinx Leaders Roundtable (Roundtable) is a group of leaders in the Rochester community that has a deep focus on advocacy, leveraging our collective power, resources, and creating a united voice. We exist to convene, lead, and represent Latinx interests and advancement efforts at a policy and systems level. We will do this by engaging Latinx leadership in an inclusive and collaborative approach to advocate for the rights of Latinx individuals and represent our communities’ concerns. To learn more visit https://rochesterlatinx.org/