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Council to Discucss Language Access Accommodations for City Residents

At this week’s meeting, the City Council will discuss language access accommodations for City residents to better engage with City government.

Currently, many City documents, such as those produced by the Youth and Family Services and Public Services, are translated in Spanish. The Resident Guide is also translated into Spanish and is available online in English and Spanish. The Clerk’s Office and the Department of Planning, Community, and Economic Development have contracted interpreters to attend meetings when requests have been made. City’s website and The City’s website, emails, and social media all can be digitally and automatically translated into other languages based on the individual’s computer, mobile or browser settings/add-ons. This functionality will also work for the Accela and AIMS parking software and forms.

According to the 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-year estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, in College Park the top three languages spoken outside of English are Spanish (8%), Chinese (5%), and Korean (2%). Residents speaking these three languages, (about 4,500 residents), a majority report that they speak English “very well.”

Interpreter rates are usually between $100 – $125 per hour. Document translation services range between $0.14 to $0.25 per word and depending on the size or scope of the document, can take several days to weeks to produce.

Staff have also researched the possibility of captioning the City’s Council meetings or providing ASL interpreters for our hard of hearing communities. Live captioning is preferred over ASL interpreters due to the logistics of filming, barriers of communication and higher costs. The cost for captioning Mayor and Council meetings would range from about $16,000 to $22,000 annually. However, in order to provide captioning service, equipment would need to be upgraded, and additional space may need to be required. Staff has not confirmed the cost of new equipment required for captioning.

Language access and translation were budgeted for $20,000 in the FY2020 budget. Some options mentioned above may cost more than the amount budgeted.

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