by Jesus Hernandez, VoiceWaves Journalist
In one of the most diverse cities in the country, language access for the diverse population seems logical. On June 27, the Language Access Coalition (LAC) hosted “Many Languages, ONE Voice,” an event to bring awareness to the whole issue of language access or the lack thereof in Long Beach.
Various organizations throughout the city came together to help spread the word of language access to members of the community who would benefit from its availability. Present at the event were representatives from the Long Beach Immigrant Right Coalition, Filipino Migrant Center, EM3, GCN, East Yard Communities, Housing LB, Building Healthy Communities, Legal Aid Foundation and Californians for Justice. More than 80 people that spoke English, Spanish, Khmer, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Samoan/Pacific Islanders-Oceania attended the event.
Susanne Browne, Legal Aid attorney, said, “About two years ago in the budget process, the city cut money for interpretation and translation services at public meetings for those who didn’t speak English.”
The importance of language access was illustrated with one simple example: how difficult it would be for someone who speaks Khmer to dial 911 in case of an emergency and no one on the other end spoke that language. When city council met a few months ago about the Downtown Plan, many residents had to bring their own interpreter to have their voice understood.
Currently, the LAC is meeting with community members through events like the “Many Languages, ONE Voice” so they can accurately draft a comprehensive policy to present to the City Council.
Jesus Hernandez spoke about the Language Access issue with Susanne Brown, Senior Attorney, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.