New Reform Bill Seeks to Expand Language Access at California Employment Development Department
A new bill, AB-401, introduced by Indian American California state Assemblyman Ash Kalra and other legislators, requires in-language translations for EDD benefits and instructions to be expanded from seven to 30 different languages to provide wider access to more diverse communities. (edd.ca.gov photo)
India-West Staff Reporter
A new proposed legislation, introduced by Assembly Members David Chiu, Chad Mayes, Cottie Petrie-Norris, Miguel Santiago and Indian American Ash Kalra, seeks to simplify the navigation of the California Employment Development Department systems and programs.
The bill, AB-401, requires in-language translations for EDD benefits and instructions to be expanded from seven to 30 different languages to provide wider access to more diverse communities.
Existing law requires all standard information employee pamphlets provided by the department concerning unemployment and disability insurance programs to be printed in English and the seven other most commonly used languages among participants in each program.
Existing law also requires the department to make the pages on its website that provide information regarding applying for, and receiving, unemployment insurance benefits available in the seven languages, other than English, most used by unemployment insurance applicants and claimants.
This bill would require the department, commencing July 1, 2022, to provide translation by qualified human translators between English and the 30 top written languages other than English used by California residents with limited English proficiency, in accordance with certain procedures, for all benefits programs administered by the department, vital documents and notices, and any other communications to a claimant.
It would require the department, if the claimant’s written language is not within these top languages, to provide the claimant, upon request, with a translated document in their written language within two business days of the request and on an ad hoc basis, or to read the document aloud and orally explain the document to the claimant in their preferred language, as prescribed.
This bill would require the department to develop a mechanism to allow for the selection of spoken language options to be expanded on the online portal, with the option to indicate a language not provided on the portal’s list and would require materials sent to the claimant to be provided in the claimant’s indicated language.
This bill would also require the department, by July 1, 2022, to undertake development of a community review process for translation of the department’s online application interface, forms, and other documents and communications, to ensure, among other goals, plain language, readability, and cultural appropriateness. It would require the community review process to be fully implemented commencing July 1, 2024, and to include user testing and input from members of the public, local government, and community-based organizations.