DCR will deploy multi-lingual signs “across our system, including of course, on all the Metropolitan beaches” beginning in 2022.
On Wednesday, February 9, at 10:00
AM, the Metropolitan Beaches Commission
and Save the Harbor/Save the Bay
convened a Virtual Public Hearing to address language barriers on the
Metropolitan Region’s public beaches in Lynn, Nahant, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston,
South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and Hull.
At the hearing the Commission 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.
|At King’s Beach and the rest of the Metropolitan Region’s public beaches, water quality, beach rules, and regulations need to be accessible to people that do not speak English as their primary language to promote equity.|
“Overcoming language barriers is a key issue,” said Chris Mancini, Executive Director of Save the Harbor/ Save the Bay. “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.”
Representative Adrian Madaro of East Boston, who Co-Chairs the Commission, 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, wellbeing, and success of all of our neighbors.”
Participants heard presentations on current and best practices for multilingual signage and websites. “Of the 250 signs we looked at across our Massachusetts coast, just four of them were in languages other than English,” said Bruce Berman, Director of Strategy and Communications of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. “That’s simply not good enough.”
“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 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 Stephanie Cooper, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation and Julia Mejia, City Councilor-at-Large, City of Boston.
According to Acting DCR Commissioner 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 Julia Mejia, Boston City Councilor-at-Large. “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.”
Commission 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 Metropolitan Beaches Commission welcomes public participation and will gladly accept written testimony from all interested parties. Please email your comments to rodriguez@savethe harbor.org.
For more information about the hearing contact Save the Harbor's Executive Director Chris Mancini by email to email@example.com or on his cell at (617) 909-6667, or their Director of Strategy & Communications Bruce Berman by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or on his cell at 617-293-6243.
Recordings of this hearing are available in English,
Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian-Creole, Arabic, Vietnamese, and Mandarin here
About the Metropolitan Beaches Commission
The Metropolitan Beaches Commission is a permanent Commission charged with making findings and recommendations to the Legislature and the Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) on ways to improve the metropolitan region's public beaches. It was established by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2006 and is led and managed by Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. You can find more information about the MBC on Save the Harbor/Save the Bay's website, and download copies of our previous reports at https://www.savetheharbor.org/mbc-archives.
Late last spring, the Commission decided to focus attention on ways to increase diversity, equity and inclusion on the Metropolitan Region’s public beaches, to improve access for people of color, people with disabilities, and people who may not speak English as their primary language. Last May, we heard from a diverse group of civic leaders and community members about ways in which we could increase diversity on the beaches and in our beach programming. In November, the Commission focused on ways to increase and improve access for people with disabilities on the Metropolitan Region’s public beaches. The most recent hearing focused on ways to overcome language barriers that prevent people from safely enjoying their beaches.
“We hope these three hearings will enable us to do for equity, diversity and inclusion what we did for management and maintenance of the Metropolitan Beaches during the last rounds of public hearings.” said Commission Co-Chair Senator Brendan Crighton of Lynn. “Working together we will provide DCR, the Commonwealth and our communities a blueprint for improving public access to take these beaches from good to great.”
“Our state beaches are public treasures that belong to all of us,” said Commission Co-Chair Representative Adrian Madaro of East Boston. “We need to advance environmental justice and center diversity, equity, and inclusion so that people of all backgrounds can enjoy them for years to come, no matter what language they may speak.”
Following this hearing on language barriers, the Commission will host a Virtual Summit, at which they will present their preliminary findings to a broad and diverse audience of beach users to get their thoughts and input. Following the Summit, the Commission will share a report of their findings and recommendations with the Legislature, the Administration, DCR and the public. It will serve as a roadmap for improving access and increasing diversity, equity and inclusion on our public beaches going forward.
“The legislative and community members of the Commission hope that this hearing will help us improve the beach experience for people who do not speak English as their primary language,” said Chris Mancini, Executive Director of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. “We are looking forward to working together with DCR, other state agencies, and our beachfront communities to develop strategies to improve access to these spectacular urban natural resources for people of all languages and backgrounds.”
For more information about the MBC or the hearing, please contact Save the Harbor's Executive Director Chris Mancini by email to email@example.com or on his cell at (617) 909-6667, or their Director of Strategy & Communications Bruce Berman by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or on his cell at 617-293-6243.
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