Improving Language Access Services in Schools

As a school organization, you might be asking yourself, “How can we integrate language services to improve communication with our English-learning students and their families?” You are most likely preparing your 2021-2022 budget, and you are faced with deciding just how important language access services are to your school. ACSI can address this weighty decision using two key approaches: by implementing the ADHOC level from our Language Access Maturity Model™ (LAMM), and by providing direct suggestions that break down the language barrier we too often see between schools and the Non-English Proficient (NEP) community.

Per our definition, ADHOC means you can respond to your multicultural needs on a case-by-case basis. For example, if you have a large, in-school event coming up, or even “simple” parent- teacher conferences that you know will involve NEP parents, the ADHOC level from our LAMM allows ACSI to help you without formal processes, technology or staff in place, making it a very user-friendly option. The goal is to ensure all information is available to every student’s family; this means, together we break the language barrier, and provide translators and/or interpreters for all school functions when necessary.

In addition to our LAMM strategy, taking into account that classes will remain virtual or hybrid for the foreseeable future, ACSI suggests the following to bring your school and the NEP community closer:

  • Include an interpreter for any academic event that involves NEP individuals

  • Subtitle or dub videos that are designed for community outreach

  • Translate all textual communications in necessary languages

  • Include Remote Simultaneous Interpretation (RSI) in any outreach events that are designed to inform and/or encourage participation

  • Translate and localize key websites

  • Focus-group

To give you a brief illustration of how the lack of language services negatively impacts the greater NEP community, let’s focus on events such as school lotteries, open houses and education festivals. In December, the D.C. Public School System (DCPS) organized their Ed-Fest in a timely manner, taking into account infographics and information necessary in different languages, while other school districts did not. When ACSI is not involved, like we were with DCPS, non-English speaking communities may not even be aware of these helpful, informational events because they are not presented in multiple languages.

Communication equality has always been so important in our school systems, and now NEP students are suffering even more due to COVID’s limitations on face-to-face learning. As a school organization, providing these students and their parents with necessary language access services is paramount, not only for the students’ academic success, but also to assure key information intended for families is not slipping through the cracks. ACSI is here as your “language justice partner,” ready to provide you with indispensable resources and guidance toward crucial linguistic integration.