Improving active involvement in local government for all citizens is important to many cities, but sometimes it’s not easy to know where to start. A language access plan (LAP) can provide you with a roadmap that the entire city government can use to help determine where each department is at in the process of increasing language accessibility. From there, the city can consider progress towards specific benchmarks that were created to guide the process. With a LAP, your city knows what language access goals are in-progress, which local languages are prominent, and how your government agencies plan to improve accessibility. LAPs provide guidance and serve as useful tools in promoting language accessibility in city governments.
There are many reasons to have a LAP, but one of them is priority and goal setting. LAPs can help your city figure out what goals to aim for and how to get there. From then on, the LAP can provide benchmarks determining how much progress was made so far. In a sense, then, LAPs are living documents you’ll regularly revisit and rework as your city’s needs change. As a guide, referencing your LAP keeps local governments moving forward in implementing important changes and meeting the language needs of local residents.
A customized LAP can help your city establish priorities and plan how you’ll reach any goals that you set for the local government--any agencies, organizations, and groups that participate in areas that need the LAP can also be mentioned. If, for instance, you have other agencies that do important work with the city, the LAP’s goals and priorities may also be important to them. Local residents need their own languages covered by the LAP if your local government identifies those language groups during the survey phase of your plan.
Your city, once you know what the language accessibility priorities should be, will likely want to start identifying resources for reaching these new goals. The resources that are important to you depend on your city’s needs, budgets, agencies, and other factors. It doesn’t have to be expensive or resource-intensive to begin acting on your plan. In fact, having a LAP already may help you save and be more conservative with the resources you have by allowing you to allocate each resource more effectively than you could otherwise. You’ll need to do what works for your local government. A LAP can help you get there.
For instance, if you know you have three different non-English languages that your city website should be translated into, you’ll want to identify in your LAP how you’ll meet that goal and when it’ll happen. Perhaps you’ll need to designate internal task forces to help or to oversee the work.
Alongside other translation and language accessibility work that needs to happen, your city will have to carefully consider how to implement any policy changes your LAP identifies. Should any local government agencies revise or update their policies about language accessibility? Since people groups and local populations can evolve quickly, you should be looking regularly at policies and regulations in place with your government, too. Consider how these policies impact non-English speakers and their ability to participate in your local government.
Learn About LAPs
If you’re ready to create a dynamic Language Access Plan for your local government, Language Network has a resource for you--”Language: How To Develop A Language Access Program.” Download this informative free ebook today to find out how your city, company, or organization can develop a LAP and begin putting it into practice. It’ll give you the practical toolkit you need to promote language accessibility and help non-English speakers participate in your local government or organization.