The Value of Language Services in Underserved Communities

State-approved interpreting servicesMany individuals in underserved communities face language barriers that prevent them from receiving services critical to their wellbeing, understanding their rights, and accessing opportunities.

For more than thirty-five years, Interpreters and Translators, Inc. (iTi) has been helping those who serve these communities break through those barriers.

The Importance of Translation and Interpreter Services for Schools and Other Community-Based Organizations

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2019, 67.8 million people speak a language other than English at home. A large percentage of people in underserved communities fall into this category and may be Limited English Proficient (LEP). Many are eligible for government assistance, but communication barriers can make it difficult to receive the help they need.

Additionally, deaf or hard-of-hearing members of these communities may struggle in situations where they do not have an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter available.

Government programs often include funds specifically earmarked for underserved communities, and these funds can be used for language services provided by a federally-approved provider like iTi.

The Impact of Communication Barriers on Healthcare and Education

Language barriers can be particularly problematic in healthcare and education settings, where communication is critical. People who do not receive the services they need are more likely to face health and learning challenges. Historically challenges like this can can continue through generations.

When information is available in someone’s native language, they are more likely to participate. Conversely, when information is not available in someone’s native language, they may be afraid to get essential services. This can be particularly problematic when it comes to important issues that affect overall community health, like the need for and availability of vaccines.

While public schools are technically required to offer services and documents to LEP students and their families in their native language, many school systems do not have the internal resources to do so, causing students and families to be left behind. Contracting with a government-approved language services provider not fulfills this legal requirement. Having a language access program in place also encourages a more vibrant and diverse educational community. iTi has been providing language services for schools and departments of education throughout New England for over thirty-five years.

Building Trust with Vulnerable Communities through Language Services

People in disadvantaged or minority communities are more likely to mistrust government or municipal agencies. The availability of an interpreter who speaks their native language and understand their culture will allow them to be more confident about asking for help.

Limited English proficient (LEP) persons are also more likely to receive confusing or incorrect information about important community issues. Many rumors surrounding the availability and safety of vaccines has circulated in recent years. The ability to receive accurate information in their native language is important to help LEP persons feel part of their communities.

While friends and family can help, they are no substitutes for professionally trained interpreters. A professional interpreter will also understand cultural differences that go beyond merely interpreting words. This is important because cultural misunderstandings can lead to confusion and mistrust.

In healthcare situations, the value of a qualified medical interpreter cannot be overstated, even in a situation where bilingual employees are available. Click here for a more in-depth discussion of this topic.

iTi’s Commitment to Excellence in Language Services

At iTi, we are proud to be a federally-approved provider of language services. We also have contracts with several states. This means that we have the necessary credentials to provide interpretation and translation services in municipal and educational settings. We are committed to providing high-quality, accurate, and culturally sensitive language services to help individuals and organizations bridge language barriers and create opportunities for success.


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