DCR will deploy multilingual signs beginning in 2022
On February 9 at 10:00 a.m., the Metropolitan Beaches Commission (MBC) and Save the Harbor/Save the Bayconvened a Virtual Public Hearing to address language barriers on the public beaches in Lynn, Nahant, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and Hull. At the hearing the MBC took testimony from people who do not predominantly communicate in English about the obstacles they face when they try to use and enjoy the region’s public beaches. In addition, participants heard presentations on current and best practices for multilingual signage and websites.
“Overcoming language barriers is a key issue,” said Save the Harbor/Save the Bay Executive Director Chris Mancini. “If we don’t have diversity in programs and signage on our beaches, folks will be forced to be spectators when they should be involved, active participants.”
MBC Co-Chair Representative Adrian Madaro of East Boston set the tone in his opening remarks, saying, “In East Boston, language justice and language access are not merely aspirations; they are absolute necessities to ensure the safety, well-being, and success of all of our neighbors.”
“Of the 250 signs we looked at across our Massachusetts coast, just four of them were in languages other than English. That’s simply not good enough,” said Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Director of Strategy and Communications, Bruce Berman.
“QR codes on beach signage is one easy way to connect people to the multilingual resources they need,” said Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Policy Intern, Caroline Adamson, during her presentation, pointing out that QR codes are already in use on signs in Revere and elsewhere.
Among those who testified at the hearing were Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) Acting Commissioner Stephanie Cooper and Boston City Councilor-at-Large Julia Mejia. According to Cooper, “We are focused on having our areas accessible and safe. We also need to have signage and information that provides people with the rules and regulations. What are the amenities? What do I need to know to enjoy the beach and be safe?”
Cooper underscored the importance of the use of QR codes, observing that “Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s presentation highlighted some of where we are headed and some of the progress we still need to make. The great thing about a QR code is that you can provide a lot of information in all the languages that you want. Our plan is to use QR codes this year.”
“I hope that in the years to come our public spaces resemble, more accurately, our community,” said Mejia. “When I look at a lot of the signs, oftentimes at our public beaches everything is still very much in English. I think that we need to do a better job of making sure that if we are serious about creating spaces where people are seen and reflected then translation and information justice is a part of that conversation.”
MBC Co-Chair Senator Brendan Crighton of Lynn agreed and was “inspired by the powerful testimony” he heard at the hearing – “We look forward to using this community input to make our beaches more equitable and inclusive for all people regardless of the language they speak.”
The MBC welcomes public participation and will gladly accept written testimony from all interested parties. Please email your comments to email@example.com. For more information about the hearing, contact Mancini by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or on his cell at (617) 909-6667, or contact Berman by email to email@example.com or on his cell at 617-293-6243.