Supes to Offer Expanded Translation Services at Board Meetings

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will offer translation services in Spanish, Tagalog and Chinese at meetings starting this fall as part of a pilot program approved this week.

The board on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation by Supervisor Norman Yee establishing a pilot translation program. The ordinance was co-sponsored by Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, Eric Mar, London Breed, Julie Christensen, Jane Kim, and Katy Tang.

The ordinance, which takes effect in September, asks the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs to provide interpreters at the start of every full board meeting and to provide simplified translations of some public documents and notices to be published online.

Yee said that while the board now honors requests for translation made 48 hours in advance and tries to accommodate other requests wherever possible, there have been several occasions recently when constituents have been unable to testify due to a lack of certified translators. He noted that nearly 21 percent of San Francisco’s population identifies as limited English speakers.

“It is our duty to create an environment where all residents are welcome and offering language services is inherent to an open and transparent democratic process,” Yee said.

The pilot program will continue through July 2016, at which point it can be continued by the board.

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

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