Organizations Call for Access to COVID-19 Information in Multiple Languages
The Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ), Hispanic Outreach Leadership and Action (HOLA), Adelante Alabama Worker Center, AIDS Alabama, Alabama Arise, Children’s Policy Cooperative (CPC), Alabama Institute for Social Justice, AshaKiran, Birmingham Islamic Society, GASP, Greater Birmingham Ministries (GBM), and the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (HICA), are calling on the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Governor’s Office to provide an information hotline accessible in different languages to provide critical information about COVID-19 and health resources to non-English speaking residents in our state. At this moment, the statewide ADPH hotline is only accessible in English.
In addition, many of the local sites providing testing and organizations providing economic and food resources are not providing information in other languages about how to access testing and resources. We ask the Governor and ADPH to also require local agencies to provide language access for their services. This can be accomplished by translating notices into Spanish and other languages, as well as utilizing bilingual staff, interpreters, and volunteers and a language line for phone and on-site communications.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 National Emergency, state agencies have established a much-needed hotline for information in English. However, many of our constituents are not fluent in English and are unable to obtain information about testing sites, availability, and prevention. According to the 2018 American Community Survey, over 200,000 people in Alabama speak a language other than English in their homes. Lack of accessible information about COVID-19 in languages other than English poses a serious risk to communities across Alabama.
“Our immigrant leaders and staff are working diligently to collect information about resources that can be provided to their communities, but we recognize that we are not health professionals. Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and we believe the State of Alabama has an obligation to provide this information to prevent further spread of the virus,” said Allison Hamilton, Interim Executive Director with ACIJ.
Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as guidance from the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services and the Joint Commission regarding language access, state entities and local organizations that receive federal funding are required to provide free meaningful language assistance when providing services and public information.This is a critical moment for our state and local institutions to follow these laws.
More information regarding language access laws can be found at: