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Senate passes legislation to create free translations of General Assembly website

Translate buttonSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate has approved Chicago Democrat State Sen. Omar Aquino’s proposal to use free online software to create translations of the Illinois General Assembly website.

“This measure will bring Illinois into the 21st century and allow all residents to engage in the democratic process regardless of preferred language,” Aquino said. “The intent of this bill is to expand access to information at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers. With online translation software, it is possible to translate a website into several languages for free.”

The measure would require the state to embed translation technology into ilga.gov within one year of passage. The General Assembly’s website gives people access to information about the Illinois House and Senate, actions taken in committees, legislative measures and other information from as long ago as 1999. Using the app, visitors to the website would be able to translate much of this information into numerous languages.

The legislation has over 50 sponsors including both Democrats and Republicans. Aquino says that listening to the concerns of both parties improved the legislation.

“Republicans had some concerns about cost, fearing that Illinois would need to spend as much as $1.5 million on a translation,” Aquino said. “I took this opportunity to clarify my intent and work across the aisle to come up with a free solution.”

While online software allows the website to be translated into a wide variety of languages, Aquino is the first to admit that the translations may not be perfect every time.

“As anyone who has ever used online translation software knows, the translation isn’t always perfect,” Aquino said. The Legislative Information Service will include disclaimers warning site visitors about the accuracy of the translations.

“For the purpose of translating certain content on the General Assembly website, the tools work very well and will expand access to the wealth of information contained on the current website without putting strain on the state’s resources,” Aquino said.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1869, was approved by the full Senate. It now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Sen. Omar Aquino

Senator Omar Aquino

2nd Senate District
Majority Caucus Whip

Years served: 2016 - Present

Committee assignments: Appropriations I (Vice-Chairperson); Appropriations II; Education; Government Accountability/Pensions; Higher Education; Licensed Activities; Subcommittee on Capital (AP); Subcommittee on Charter Schools; Labor (Chairperson); Opioid Crisis Abatement Spec. Com..

Biography: Born and raised on the Northwest Side of Chicago; B.A. in Criminal Justice and Sociology, Loyola University Chicago; Bilingual Case Manager at Central West Case Management Unit at the Jane Addams School of Social Work; Legislative Assistant in the Illinois House of Representatives; Outreach Coordinator for Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth; Devoted to improving education, aging services and human services.

Associated Representatives::
Luis Arroyo
Delia C. Ramirez