San Bernardino makes council meetings more accessible to Spanish speakers – San Bernardino Sun

San Bernardino will soon offer live Spanish interpretation and translation services at city council meetings.

English closed captioning will also be introduced for deaf and hard of hearing residents who watch twice-weekly council meetings online or on TV.

This decision received unanimous support on Wednesday May 4.

Proposed by Councilman Ben Reynoso last year to make council meetings more accessible to voters who want to follow local politics but face language barriers, the addition of interpretation services is expected to cost $71,000 in one-time expenses and between $19,000 and $30,000 per year. .

Additional translation services – in Vietnamese and American Sign Language, in particular – will not be pursued at this time.

“I brought this item forward with the intention of including our entire community: Spanish, Vietnamese, ASL and closed captioning for all council meetings,” Reynoso said in a text message Thursday. The “board has wronged the public by only approving Spanish interpreting services, but for now I am grateful for this real step towards true inclusion”.

Two Spanish language interpreters will be present at future council meetings to translate for those present. They will be scheduled for approximately 24 regular meetings per year.

New equipment will allow Spanish-speaking participants to follow the interpreters in real time.

Acquiring headsets for this segment of the in-person audience will allow the meeting to be live-streamed in Spanish via a remote platform, city workers wrote in a report to city council. As a result, Spanish-speaking residents will be able to watch their government at work without having to attend in person.

In 2010, 60% of San Bernardino residents identified as Hispanic, according to US Census data.

In 2020, Esri, a Redlands-based geographic information system software company, estimated that 66% of residents self-identify.

Last year, city officials noted that 15% of San Bernardino residents were registered to vote in Spanish.

As for English closed captioning, new city software slated to roll out in July will provide the service, providing greater accessibility and transparency to voters, city workers wrote. Inland Empire Media Group, which broadcasts all council meetings, will bear the cost of adding the captioning system.

Edward K. Thompson