In February 2016, Mayor Walsh signed City Ordinance 2016 Chapter 13 which established language and communications access in the City of Boston. This ordinance strengthens the Mayor’s vision to make Boston a more inclusive and equitable city. It ensures that people who use languages other than English (LOTE) and people with disabilities have meaningful access to City information and services.
The ordinance is an advancement of an executive order from 2008. This order created the baseline practice of providing interpretation services for residents appearing before boards or commissions. Mayor Walsh’s ordinance extends this practice to include interpretation, translation, and assistive technology support for all City services and programs. Furthermore, the City strives to provide interpretation and translation requests in any language. These services are provided at no charge to the constituent.
The ordinance also helped create the Office of Language and Communications Access (LCA). Our office works to build the capacity of all 48+ City departments around language and communications access. Our four main areas of responsibility are:
- We provide support. We help City departments make their services and information more accessible to all. We provide regular training on guidelines and best practices. We act as the point of contact for any and all inquiries about language and communications access.
- We collect data. We collect data about people’s experiences regarding greater accessibility in the City. We measure the City’s capacity in providing these specific accommodations. We use this information to improve our practice and help the City create more meaningful services.
- We partner with communities. We partner with community groups and organizations so more people can learn about these services. We created a feedback form and a website to open direct lines of communications with constituents.
- We organize resources. We compile resources that we think will be valuable to both city staff and constituents. We maintain and lend out assistive technology equipment like assistive listening devices and interpretation equipment. We recruit for the Volunteer Language Pool that draws on the skills of generous multilingual volunteers. We create reports like the Demographic Data report that capture the diversity of the City.
So how can we help you? We are happy to answer your questions and assist in anyway we can. Whether you are a community member, organization, or city employee, we look forward to working together to make our city a welcoming place for all.
The Office of Language and Communication Access works to strengthen the City of Boston so that services, programs and activities are meaningfully accessible to all constituents. To learn more, visit the Language and Communications Access website.