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March 27, 2023

Velasco Bill to Expand Language Accessibility for Emergency Alerts Passes Committee

DENVER, CO - The House State, Civic, Military, & Veterans Affairs Committee today passed bipartisan legislation to expand language accessibility for emergency and public safety alerts.

“English fluency should not determine whether or not you have the information to protect yourself and your family from an emergency situation that could threaten your safety and wellbeing,” said Rep. Elizabeth Velasco, D-Glenwood Springs. “Wildfires, landslides, and other natural disasters are very common in our rural and mountain towns and Coloradans rely on notifications that connect them to resources to survive. With over 40 languages spoken throughout the state, we have to learn how to communicate emergency information to all Coloradans in a way that is accessible to them.”

HB23-1237, also sponsored by Senator Perry Will, passed by a vote of 8-1. The bill would direct the University of Colorado’s Natural Hazards Center, in consultation with the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (division), to conduct a study to identify what municipalities, sheriff's offices, counties, fire districts, and local 911 agencies need to provide emergency alerts in a non-English language and live interpretation during a 911 call. The study would identify essential components of a multi-hazard early warning system needed to successfully reach residents and visitors and would also include recommendations for how to better reach at-risk communities that may have difficulties accessing English language text alerts.

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