The Metropolitan Beaches Commission and Save the Harbor/Save the Bay held a virtual public hearing on Feb. 9 to address language barriers at 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.
“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.”
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 Save the Harbor/Save the Bay Director of Strategy and Communications Bruce Berman. “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 STH/STB 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 Boston City Councilor Julia Mejia.
“We are focused on having our areas accessible and safe,” Cooper said, noting that DCR plans to implement QR codes on its signs this year. “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?”
The Metropolitan Beaches Commission welcomes public participation and will gladly accept written testimony from all interested parties. Please email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recordings of this hearing are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian-Creole, Arabic, Vietnamese, and Mandarin. For information, visit http://blog.savetheharbor.org/