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, Council voted unanimously to adopt Resolution 2022-0071.  The resolution creates a policy to establish a language access plan to ensure Limited English proficiency (LEP) residents have access to the City's services, information, civic processes, interpretation guidelines, and translation services.

“Language access is a critical component of equal access to local government,” said Council Member Michael Cathcart who co-sponsored with Council Member Betsy Wilkerson. “Effective communication and engagement allow residents to feel comfortable talking to local government staff across all departments and elected officials. This resolution opens the door for greater engagement with our entire community.”

According to a 2020 5yr Community Survey, 16,732 Spokane residents speak a language other than English, and Spokane’s immigrant population has grown by 9% since 2010; according to Spokane Public School District, 80 languages are spoken in our public schools.

“Implementing the Language Access Program is critical as Spokane residents speak a language other than English has grown by 9% since 2010,” said Council Member Betsy Wilkerson.   “The data shows us the need and that access to City programs and services is a fundamental right to residents.”

Through the resolution, the Office of Civil Rights, Equity, and Inclusion are encouraged 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 our City’s prosperity,” said Council’s Equity and Inclusion Initiatives Manager Alex Gibilisco.  “Establishing a language access program for the City allows residents to fully engage without language becoming a barrier to their success in our community.”