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Pou Bill Requiring Materials for Persons With Developmental Disabilities Be Available in Languages Other than English Approved

Senator Nellie Pou, D-Passaic/Bergen, hears testimony during today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on S-1, legislation that would establish marriage equality in New Jersey.  The bill was released from the Committee with a vote of 8-4, along party lines.  The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Nellie Pou that would require the Commissioners of Children and Families and Human Services to ensure that all forms and materials concerning services for persons with developmental disabilities be printed in English and certain other languages was approved today by the full Senate.

“We, as a society, are providing many needed programs and services to people with developmental disabilities, but we do a disservice to these individuals, if we make it hard for their non-English speaking caregivers to know about these programs,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “According to the Census, more than 30 percent of persons age five or older in New Jersey speak a language other than English.

“This bill will require the State to print all forms and relevant materials for persons with disabilities in languages in addition to English if at least 10 percent of the residents within an election district speak that other language. This will ensure no one is being deprived services for a lack of information.”

Under the bill, S-939, the Commissioners of Children and Families and Human Services, in addition to printing all relevant materials and forms in languages other than English, would be required to make that information available on the department’s websites.

The Department of Human Services’ Division of Developmental Disabilities cares for approximately 25,000 adults with significant developmental challenges. The Department of Children and Families Children’s System of Care serves over 50,000 children with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 30-0, and next goes to the Assembly for further consideration.