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美国一些州政府通过扫除语言障碍的法案
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S.F. BOARD UNIT OKS DOCUMENT TRANSLATION
The so-called equal access policy would initially require that documents be translated in Spanish and Chinese.
New census figures, expected next year, might warrant the addition of Russian to the list. Oakland passed a similar policy in April.
``Communication is a two-way street. It''s important when citizens communicate with government. It''s also important for government to communicate with citizens,'''' said Supervisor Mark Leno, who sponsored the proposed policy.
Multilingual services are becoming increasingly important in diverse California. Statewide, minorities became the majority in 2000. While whites remain the majority in San Francisco, Lunar New Year is an official school holiday and translators in Chinese, Russian and Spanish were needed at a hearing on senior housing.
Some city departments already hire bilingual workers. For instance, 23 of 49 employees at the city''s Human Rights Commission speak more than one language. And some documents, such as the Office of Emergency Service''s earthquake preparedness materials, are currently available in other languages. What has been missing, however, is a citywide policy detailing what must be available to non-English speakers. Under the proposed policy, ``vital'''' documents -- including applications, tests and public notices -- would be made available in another language if at least 10,000 city residents use that as their primary language. Telephone messages would also be recorded in multiple languages. The policy is intended to help residents who don''t understand English, not those who are bilingual.
It''s not a matter of simple convenience. Speakers at Wednesday''s hearing told of battered wives whose abusers told police how they ``hurt'''' themselves, of children pulled out of school to translate for their parents, of crime victims who couldn''t read referral brochures because they were only printed in English.
The initial cost would be $600,000 to translate documents for 17 city departments that routinely work with the public, said budget analyst Harvey Rose. The Immigrant Rights Commission would need an additional $99,000 to make sure the policy is being implemented.
If documents must be translated into languages other than Spanish or Chinese, it would cost the city $350,000 per language, Rose said. His figures were based on hiring outside translators, not creating an in-house translation service, as Oakland is considering.


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