DENVER, CO - The House today passed bipartisan legislation to expand language accessibility for emergency and public safety alerts. The bill passed by a vote of 59-5.
“From wildfires to avalanches, rural and urban Coloradans are reliant on emergency alerts to notify them of potential dangers to themselves or their property,” said Rep. Elizabeth Velasco, D-Glenwood Springs. “Limiting notifications to just English leaves non-English speakers without the resources or information they need to react to life-threatening dangers. Our bill will help identify ways to best communicate emergency information to non-English speakers and people with disabilities so everyone has a fair chance to protect themselves and their families.”
HB23-1237, also sponsored by Republican Senator Perry Will, would direct the University of Colorado’s Natural Hazards Center, in consultation with the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, to conduct a study to identify how municipalities, sheriff's offices, counties, fire districts, and local 911 agencies can best provide emergency alerts in a non-English language and implement 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 include recommendations for how to better reach at-risk communities that may have difficulties accessing English language text alerts.