The County of Santa Clara (County) is committed to providing equitable services to our community. More than half of the County residents speak a second language, and more than 20% of residents identified as Limited English Proficient (LEP). Thus, it is important to provide language access services to ensure the County’s diverse residents have equal access to County services, along with meaningful opportunities to participate in and contribute to the County’s success.
The Board Policy 3.58 seeks to ensure that every resident has meaningful access to County services, programs, benefits, and information. The County shall work to promote the availability of language interpretive services to residents and visitors through the publication of information on the County website, signage conspicuously posted at offices and locations where the public regularly interacts with County staff, and, when feasible, on publicly disseminated information. The County shall also ensure that signage and way-finding notices incorporate universal symbols and are posted in public locations.
Before 2020, the County provided language access services through authorized county-wide contracts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Public Information Office (PIO) recruited Disaster Service Workers (DSW) from various departments of the County to support language access services. Since then, multi-lingual DSWs have contributed by helping the County deliver vital information and notices to LEP residents in our five threshold languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog) in a culturally appropriate manner.
In February 2022, the County Board of Supervisors approved Translator/Interpreter positions for the newly formed Language Access Unit (LAU). The mission of the LAU is to provide and promote high-quality and culturally appropriate language services to the County of Santa Clara Departments. The LAU is under the Division of Equity and Social Justice (DESJ), with Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog teams to provide translation and interpretation services for COVID-19 response, DESJ, and County departments. In addition, the LAU also coordinates and manages authorized translation and interpretation vendors to meet the language needs of our diverse residents and County.