The Mass. Department of Unemployment Assistance will launch a web platform that will allow the hundreds of thousands of Spanish speakers in Massachusetts apply for benefits in their native language.
"In the coming days, the department will launch a new mobile-friendly, Spanish-only application," Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday in his daily press briefing.
With a skyrocketing number of people applying for unemployment, the department has come under fire for having a monolingual online application system, including claims that the English-only system could open the state to liability under federal civil rights law.
Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of the nonprofit Lawyers for Civil Rights, says he wants the state to immediately release the new Spanish platform, as any delay can cause increased hardship.
“As more resources become available from the federal government, the gap in services widens, primarily based on English proficiency,” Espinoza-Madrigal said in a statement. “This [platform] is an important step towards providing language access. It should also be immediately available in other languages.”
Baker said the new platform will aim to "help those who are facing language and technology barriers in the legacy [unemployment insurance] online interface."
This article was originally published on April 09, 2020.