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Se Habla Español...and Seven Other Threshold Languages



Belonging, equity and access are part of the County’s core values, and one of the many ways to support those values is how we communicate. The County Board of Supervisors has accepted the Inclusive and Equitable Communications Plan.

This means that moving forward, every County department must make reasonable efforts to expand language access for residents and communities. The goal is to ensure communications, business operations, websites and public-facing documents are:

  • Inclusive, equitable and culturally responsive

  • Trauma-informed

  • Literacy-level appropriate

  • Accurately translated

All departments shall take reasonable steps to prioritize translation of vital documents. Each department will determine which documents are deemed vital and shall establish a process for identifying and prioritizing these documents for translation.

Language services, including translations and oral interpretation, must be done in the eight threshold languages established by the County in accordance with Board Policy A-139.  The current threshold languages are: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Filipino (Tagalog) Korean, Persian (including Farsi and Dari), Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

When in-person oral interpretation services are not available, services must be made available to limited English-speaking people by phone, internet or video.

Translation and Interpretation Companies Available

To accomplish this goal, the County has retained translation and interpretation companies that can provide services in the eight threshold languages and more than 200 others if needed. A language services intranet site has also been created. It contains easy-to-understand guidance on what to do before, during and after communicating internally and externally as a County government.

The County Communications Office and the Office of Equity and Racial Justice worked with employees from all levels and from multiple departments to develop the Inclusive and Equitable Communications Plan. The plan contains input from key community groups, identifies short-, mid- and long-term initiatives to improve language services and community engagement, which is now at the center of all County operations.

During the planning process, it was determined that while departments are making efforts to provide materials in various County threshold languages, there is opportunity for consistency, monitoring and community input.

Some short-term initiatives of the Plan include making sure that all departments and employees have access to resources when developing communications.

In addition to contracting with the translation and interpretation companies and the intranet site, the Office of Communications has also hired a language services manager and a community engagement manager. Working with the community engagement manager, the language services manager will provide enterprise-wide coordination for resources, best practices and collaboration among groups, departments and the community.

The Inclusive and Equitable Communications Plan and supporting resources provide a framework, recognizing that this is a journey for all employees and departments, and strategies and resources will change over time based on internal input, community engagement and evolving best practices.