Graham Kilmer
MKE County

County Beefing Up Translation Services

Supervisor Caroline Gómez-Tom's 2023 proposal quickly moving forward.

By - Feb 9th, 2024 11:29 am

Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

Milwaukee County could soon offer translation services for its public meetings and communications.

County officials are planning to beef up the county’s existing multi-lingual offerings. The only current multi-lingual offering is a link at the bottom of county webpages that brings visitors to a Google Translate version of the webpage.

The effort was prompted by freshman Sup. Caroline Gómez-Tom, who sponsored a resolution that requested “options to equip departments with the necessary resources/training to provide public information forms, websites, and other communications in Spanish, Hmong, and other relevant languages, upon request, to residents with Limited English Proficiency.” The board adopted the request in September.

A month later, the supervisor managed to earmark $100,000 in the 2024 budget, which ensures the county can fund any strategies developed this year.

Gómez-Tom worked as a healthcare navigator during the pandemic and said she witnessed firsthand how public health communications broke down when they had to pass the language barrier, and communities were left translating important information on their own.

In January, senior manager for the office of Strategy, Performance and Budget Claire Miller told the board’s Finance Committee that closed captioned translations could be implemented for broadcasts of public meetings, and that translation services could be contracted for departments with “niche or ad hoc needs.”

Approximately 18% of the county residents 5 years and older speak a language other than English in their home, according to U.S. Census data. Spanish is the second most common language in Milwaukee County, followed by Hmong.

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Categories: MKE County, Politics

One thought on “MKE County: County Beefing Up Translation Services”

  1. Colin says:

    This is an amazing step forward in inclusivity!

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