Limón Bill Ensuring Inclusive Emergency Communications Passes the Assembly Floor
SACRAMENTO — Assembly Bill 1877, a bill by Assemblymember Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) which requires natural disaster-related emergency communications to be made available in the most commonly spoken language other than English, just overcame a major legislative hurdle, passing the Assembly Floor on Wednesday, May 30th.
While efforts have been made to address different linguistic needs during times of emergencies, OES emergency communications are not required to be translated, and the emergency communication needs of linguistically diverse communities are still not being met.
“With 44% of Californians over the age of five speaking a language other than English at home, it is of utmost importance that emergency communications are made available in languages other than English,” said Limón. “California is home to many diverse populations, and every individual, family and community deserves access to clear communication, particularly during times of extreme stress and confusion.”
Exclusive communication, and the resulting confusion and fear it caused, was experienced firsthand in Assemblymember Limón’s district during the Thomas Fire, the largest wildfire in modern California history, which burned roughly 281, 893 acres and 1,063 structures, forcing over 104,607 residents to evacuate.
During the initial days of the Thomas Fire there were understandably communication gaps. However the communication that was given in the first week was only in English and American Sign Language, leaving many community members confused, feeling unsafe, and unsure whether to evacuate.
“Inadequate and exclusive emergency communication does not have isolated consequences, but impacts the safety and health of all community members, including first responders,” said Limón. “This oversight places the health and safety of all Californians at risk, during times when efficient communication and collaboration is most needed.”
Monique Limón represents the 37th Assembly District which includes Santa Barbara, Ventura, Goleta, Carpinteria, Ojai, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Buellton, Solvang, Summerland, Isla Vista, Montecito and parts of Oxnard. She currently serves as Chair of the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee.
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