Crisis, Emergency, Risk Communication

# of public health topics for which we have translated information on our website

29Q1 2019

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Story Behind the Curve

Last Updated: December 2017

Author: Communication Office, Planning Department, Vermont Department of Health

According to a 2015 US Census Bureau report, there are more than 7,000 people in Vermont for whom English is a second language. One way to support the health of those people is to provide health information translated into their languages.

The most common languages in Vermont requiring translation are Arabic, Kirundi, Somali, Burmese, Nepali, Spanish and French. Most groups with limited English proficiency live in Chittenden County. There are smaller groups elsewhere in the state. One such group is Spanish-speaking farm workers, scattered throughout Vermont.

This measure looks at public information pieces, but not applications for services, or documents used in conjunction with applications.

Partners

The Agency of Human Services has contracted with Telelanguage, which provides translation services for the Health Department. When possible, translated materials are reviewed by local members of the group who speaks the target language. In the event of an emergency, we partner with contacts within the groups that have limited English proficiency to share translated materials.

What Works

For groups with limited English proficiency who are literate in their own language, providing translated documents may help support their health and safety. Ensuring staff know what documents are translated and where to find them is also a necessary step toward getting translations to the people who can use them. Developing relationships with contacts and leaders for groups with limited English proficiency helps us to distribute translated materials.

Action Plan
  • A Health Department Translation Guide was developed in 2016 to support quality translation.
  • The Communication Office project request form asks about plans for translation, to help trigger that consideration.
  • The Communication Office supports Health Department staff working to have documents translated and reviewed, and through the Communication Advisory Group we encourage programs to consider translation.
  • The Communication Office is creating an inventory of translated documents.
  • In the event of an emergency, we partner with contacts within groups that have limited English proficiency to share translated materials. We are working to strengthen these partnerships.
  • We are exploring ways to enhance awareness of translated materials on the website.
Why Is This Important?

Quality translation of English materials into different languages is essential to provide equal access to culturally- and linguistically-appropriate health information. Groups and populations with limited English proficiency experience health inequities: they are often underserved, more vulnerable to factors related to poor health, and disproportionately impacted by everyday diseases and emergencies.

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