This is a great time of year to develop a language access strategy for how to provide diversity equity and inclusion for the coming year. Too often, organizations are caught unprepared when a need arises for services from a person who has limited English abilities. Whether you work for a government agency, medical office, or non-profit, enabling meaningful access to your services in the language spoken by your clients, patients, etc. is a great way to create an inclusive environment.
Diversity equity and inclusion in the workplace is a big trend right now. Training staff and creating policies can be effective. But, like anything, there can be a gap between what a group wants to do and what they actually do. Having a concrete strategy and plan can fill that gap.
If you’re like me, there is something about the word “strategy” that is always a good idea that no one has time for. What I ask myself is. . .in regards to diversity equity, what time can be invested up front that will save me down the road? Honestly, I’m okay if your strategy is scribbled on the back of a napkin. It doesn’t have to be perfect. But you’ll find that just taking some time to put your mind on something can help you create guiding principals that will inform decisions.
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The following lists some ideas on how you might get started:
1. Identify Gaps
What are some things you’ve been meaning to do when it comes to diversity? Have you had any occasion in the past year where you failed at providing meaningful access for your service to a client due to the language barrier? If you have a system for providing language access, do your clients know about it? Do they know how to access the help? How can I provide more culturally-sensitive services? What are my obligations?
2. Design an outreach strategy
If you have a system for providing language access, do your clients know about it? Do they know how to access the help? How can you provide more culturally-sensitive services? What are your obligations? What languages are commonly requested?
3. Identify documents for translation
Are all intake documents that allow for access to services translated in the common languages? Is there a plan to provide an interpreter to review documentation for languages of lesser diffusion (or more rarely requested languages)? Do you have relationships with professional translators or agencies who can provide translation as requested? (We can help with this one!)
4. Implement process for scheduling qualified interpreters
Do you have agreements with professional interpreters or agencies? Know their policies (i.e. costs, minimums) before you start so cost isn’t a barrier. Do you partner with a phone number to connect you to Language Access? (We got your back on this one too!)
5. Celebrate diversity
Once you have a strategy in place, you can enjoy the benefits of working with people from other cultures who can bring their experience to make your organization better!
You’re not alone! Call us and we can help you set up your strategy for the year!