If you work in education, governments, health care, non-profits, or any agency that helps the community, you probably ask yourselves how to be more inclusive. A simple way to make a huge difference for people is to provide language access for families who have limited English speaking abilities.
Did you know a lot of our community members feel shame about their English speaking abilities? It’s true. And this shame results in many people not engaging with available services and support.
Did you know that the U.S. does not have an official language? We happen to speak a lot of English here, but it isn’t required. In fact, the US is the 5th most linguistically diverse country in the world! Also, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires recipients of Federal financial assistance to take reasonable steps to make their programs, services, and activities accessible by eligible persons with limited English proficiency.
So how do we help community members overcome those feelings of shame and make sure they know they can engage with you regardless of the language they speak.
Here are a few things you can do that don’t have to cost a fortune.
Translate essential materials for accessing your service
If you identify even a few documents, brochures, application forms, etc. that you can translate for communities, that can help a lot. In fact, if you take federal funding in anyway, you may be required to provide meaningful access to your service. Providing materials in the common languages spoken in your communities can help people feel welcome.
Schedule an interpreter for meetings (even virtual ones)
It’s easier than ever to add an interpreter in a meeting! Most virtual meeting systems (like zoom) support adding interpreters. Having interpreters available can provide both the language services and can serve as a cultural broker to ensure that you’re bridging the language gap.
Add subtitles to video content
Providing accurate subtitles is a great way to show inclusiveness. You can easily add subtitles to your training and marketing videos. It’s supported on most video platforms (like youtube!) It’s a great idea to add English (or the source language) as well as the translated language. Many of your community members prefer to read the subtitles when watching videos.
Include option to provide interpretation on a hotline
If you have a telephone hotline, it’s important to have a plan for when someone calls the hotline who doesn’t speak English. Having a partner with interpreters ready to conference in can smoothly enable services.
Create human translated web pages
If you have a website — providing pages in the languages spoken in the community that is translated by human makes a big difference in showing the public you have an inclusive and welcoming organization. Just translated a few core pages can make a huge difference.
Let’s go beyond just including, and strive to engage with community members regardless of their English speaking ability.
Schedule a Free 15 min Consultation with Stacey
I would love to talk with you about what you’re currently doing and give some ideas for some things you can put into place to show your commitment to Equity, Inclusion and Engagement!