Equal Access to Services
Over the last thirty-five years, AALDEF has been a leader in the fight to gain equal access to government services that Asian Americans have paid for with their tax dollars but which they sometimes do not receive. Some examples of this work are now taken for granted: bilingual ballots and election materials, translators in many government agencies and courts, interpreters at hospitals and health clinics, and the hiring of more Asian American staff at federal, state, and local agencies.
One example of AALDEF's work involved a coalition of Queens-based community-based groups, where AALDEF staff have spearheaded an effort to monitor language assistance at the New York Civil Court in Jamaica, Queens. Despite new Census figures showing a dramatic increase of Asian Americans with limited English proficiency in that borough, the Civil Court laid off its full-time Chinese and Korean interpreters for the pro se small claims section and did not provide any full-time South Asian-language interpreters or adequate translated materials.
Although AALDEF has won some concessions, we continue to monitor the courthouse to further document the need for language assistance and advocate for additional improvements, such as adequate translated legal rights materials and additional bilingual interpreters.