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Monroe County increases bilingual access to printed materials and other information

File photo
The Monroe County Office Building.

Monroe County is increasing the amount of bilingual material it’s making available to county residents.

WXXI News noticed that recently after getting a press release from the county about $200,000 being made available for festival funding in the current budget. That press release was sent to us in both English and Spanish.

County Executive Adam Bello said that this actually dates back a couple of years ago to the creation of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Department. Bello said they continue to roll out other ways of making important materials available on a bilingual basis.

“If we didn’t have this information translated into Spanish, we were leaving large segments of the population out of critical information that they needed to protect their own and their family’s health and safety,” Bello said.

For instance, Bello pointed to advisories about COVID and other critical health information.

This move is applauded by Angelica Perez-Delgado, the president and CEO of the Ibero-American Action League which advocates for Latinos in the Rochester area.

“And it also allows us to share within our networks, like we shared the announcement for today’s Code Blue, (during the bitter cold temperatures). We shared that with all of our networks and all of our participants that we see here in Ibero," said Perez Delgado.

Both Perez-Delgado and Bello note that according to U.S. Census data, Monroe County has about 42,000 county residents who prefer using the Spanish language at home. Bello said that is by far, the most common language being spoken in the county other than English.

Perez-Delgado is pleased the county is being proactive, and she said that her organization does try to follow up on the bi-lingual issue where it’s needed.

“We’ll watch, and if people are not doing this thing, we actually email them and we write them and we say, 'we noticed that you put this out and it’s not in Spanish language, how can we support you to make sure that this doesn’t happen next time?' And that’s how we’ve been able to get some of these larger systems like the school district, the city and the county to be able to do these things in dual language,” noted Perez-Delgado.

Bello said that Monroe County now has a position for a language access coordinator. That person helps the county contract with someone who can provide language translation services.

And he said the county has been trying to be inclusive in other ways, including provide American Sign Language interpreters at events and announcements.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.