Council votes unanimously on language access resolution
Lisa Gardner, City Council Communications Director, 509.625.6226
Tuesday, August 2, 2022 at 4:32 p.m
During Monday’s legislative session, the Council unanimously voted to adopt Resolution 2022-0071. The resolution creates a policy for creating a language access plan to ensure residents with limited English proficiency (LEP) have access to the city’s services, information, civic processes, interpretation policies, and translation services.
“Access to languages is a critical component to equal access to local government,” said Councilor Michael Cathcart, who co-sponsored with Councilor Betsy Wilkerson. “Effective communication and engagement allows residents to feel comfortable speaking with local government employees from all departments and elected officials. This resolution opens the door to greater engagement with our entire community.”
According to a 2020 five-year community survey, 16,732 Spokane residents speak a language other than English, and Spokane’s immigrant population has grown 9% since 2010; According to the Spokane Public School District, 80 languages are spoken in our public schools.
“Implementation of the Language Access Program is critical as the number of Spokane residents who speak languages other than English has increased by 9% since 2010,” said Councilor Betsy Wilkerson. “The data shows us the need and that access to city programs and services is a fundamental right of residents.”
The resolution encourages the Office of Civil Rights, Justice and Inclusion to convene representatives from priority departments to evaluate a proposed language access program and determine how to advance its implementation.
“Immigrants and refugees continue to contribute to the prosperity of our city,” said Alex Gibilisco, the Council’s manager of equality and inclusion initiatives. “Establishing a language access program for the city allows residents to be fully engaged without language becoming a barrier to their success in our community.”