Albany, NY (WIBX) - Calling the state a "beacon of diversity and tolerance" Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an Executive Order yesterday, requiring that certain state agencies offer free interpretation and translation services. Cuomo says agencies that provide direct public services must update vital forms and other instructional materials, to include the Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Russian, French and French Creole languages.

In a released statement the governor said, "Our state works for all people, regardless of where you were born or what language you speak. We are proud that people from all around the world call New York home, making our state a beacon of diversity and tolerance. This Executive Order ensures that non-English speakers receive equal access to the programs, services, and opportunities offered by their state government." Sighting that nearly 2.5 million New Yorkers do not speak English, Cuomo says the goal is to remove barriers when trying to access important government benefits or services.

Affected agencies include, but are not limited to:

  • Office for the Aging
  • Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services
  • Office of Children & Family Services
  • Department of Correctional Services & Community Supervision
  • Division of Criminal Justice Services
  • Empire State Development
  • Department of Health
  • Office of Mental Health
  • Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Division of Housing & Community Renewal
  • Division of Human Rights
  • Department of Financial Services
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Department of State
  • Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
  • Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
  • Division of State Police
  • Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
  • Division of Veterans' Affairs
  • Workers Compensation Board
  • Department of Public Service
  • Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

Affected agencies have one year to comply with the new rule. State officials say agencies that are now mandated to pay for the free interpretation and translation services, will have access to already negotiated discounts. The New York State Office of General Services, headed by Commissioner RoAnn Destito, negotiated the "bulk discounts" for all state agencies.

Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo has assigned, Alphonso David, Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights, to assist agencies with the implementation of the Executive Order. More information can be found on the governor's website at, www.governor.ny.gov.