The Top 3 Things You Need to Do to Successfully Execute a Language Access Program

title - The Top 3 Things You Need to Do to Successfully Execute a Language Access Program

Did you know that nearly 68 million US residents face language barriers in everyday communication? Successful language access programs bridge this gap so that no one is left unheard, but organizing and coordinating such programs effectively remains a daunting task for many organizations. This can lead to fragmented services and unmet needs.

To execute a language access program, you need 3 main ingredients: a plan, a person in charge of the plan, and access to language services and resources.

Here’s how to use these components to turn your language access program into a powerful tool for inclusivity and effective communication.

1) A language access plan

All successful language access programs begin with a language access plan that details how language services will be provided across various touchpoints. This plan is the foundation of your program and serves as a roadmap to effective communication.

A strong language access plan includes:

  • The languages spoken by your community
  • The specific services required, such as interpretation and translation
  • How you will access the required resources and provide the services
  • Clear roles and responsibilities within your organization
  • Regular evaluations and updates to keep the plan relevant

For more details on how to set up an effective access plan, download our eBook.

2) A language access coordinator

A language access plan is a good start, but it’s not enough to guarantee success. You also need a person to be in charge of implementing the plan. When making sure everyone has access to communication help is everybody’s job, it can all too easily become nobody’s priority.  If you’re trying to manage without assigning it to one owner, you’re likely struggling with scattered responsibilities, confusion about who to turn to for language-related matters, and communication breakdowns. This is not only inefficient, but it also creates a poor experience for clients who need help.

Enter the language access coordinator, the glue that holds your language access program together. A language access coordinator is in charge of:

  • Executing your plan, including making sure the budget is allocated efficiently and monitoring its effectiveness.
  • Advocating for language access across your organization and answering everyone’s questions.
  • Managing and tracking language access requests.
  • Training the rest of the team and advocating for the importance of language access.
  • Ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations.
  • Making sure your community gets the support it needs.

Without a language coordinator, language access becomes “extra work” added to someone else’s workday. That’s a recipe for overwhelmed personnel, an under-resourced and poorly managed language access program, and community needs that go unmet.

Do you need a full-time language access coordinator?

Whether or not you need a full-time language access coordinator depends on the size and scope of your language access program. It’s fine to hire someone part-time or to have someone else in your organization take on the role part-time if your program is small, as long as they have the time and support they need to handle the additional responsibilities. Just keep in mind that as your language requirements grow, the role of your language coordinator may need to grow, as well.

3) Access to language services and resources

While having a well-structured language access plan and a dedicated language access coordinator are crucial, they can’t work effectively without the right tools and resources. Access to language services and resources forms the third essential component of your language access program.

Here are the most important resources and services you’ll need for a successful program:

Qualified interpreters and translators

These are the language experts who bridge communication gaps at every touchpoint. Be sure you have a roster of qualified interpreters and translators who can assist when needed. Quality matters here, as accurate communication is key.

Pro tip: You don’t have to struggle to source interpreters and translators for all of the different languages in your community. Partner with a language solutions provider like Mindlink to tap into their network of vetted professionals!

Language assistance technology

People are the backbone of any language access program, but technology also has a vital role to play. This can include technology to handle language access requests and technology to connect people in your community who need language assistance with interpreters.

We recommend using a portal to submit and track language access requests. It streamlines the process and makes it easy for staff and community members to request language assistance when needed. With a portal, requests are logged efficiently and tracked. Project management features keep everything in one place, and real-time notifications keep everyone involved in the loop.

Local, in-person interpreters are preferable, but when that’s not an option, technology can also support your language access program by directly connecting remote interpreters and people who need help. For example, over-the-phone interpreting (OPI) and video remote interpreting (VRI) allow for quick access to language assistance, even in situations where an on-site interpreter might not be feasible.

Set your language access plan in motion

Your language access plan lays the groundwork for effective communication. A language access coordinator and the appropriate language services bring that plan to life, smashing through language barriers to make sure everyone in your community has the support they need.

With the right plan, the right person, and the right resources, your language access program can truly make a difference. At Mindlink, we’re here to help you set up a language access program that works. We can help you craft a tailored plan and provide the necessary resources to serve your diverse community. Contact us today to get started!

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