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Communicating with Multilingual Populations: New Language Access Toolkit for Nonprofits

How does your organization ensure that individuals and communities with limited English proficiency have the same level of engagement with your organization’s work as those who speak English as their primary language?

With more than 25 million individuals living in the United States identified as Limited English Proficient (LEP)—and that’s a conservative figure—delivering high-quality and culturally appropriate communications is ever more urgent.

Heising-Simons Foundation is pleased to share a new resource for nonprofits to integrate language access efforts into their organizational or programmatic communications with populations with limited English proficiency.

Communicating with Multilingual Populations: Language Access Toolkitis meant to help organizations working to serve, engage, organize, or mobilize linguistically diverse populations by considering language accessibility practices.

The toolkit shares a pink and white signpractical information intended to foster organizational fluency around language accessibility, including a glossary with key concepts and terminology; a framework to evaluate an organization’s language access needs; and planning and monitoring tools.

The toolkit was created by Global Wordsmiths, a language accessibility advocacy organization that provides translation, interpretation, training, and consulting services. “I don’t think many people realize that a lack of language access infrastructure creates a systemic and extremely prohibitive barrier to services and resources for individuals who don’t communicate in English,” said Mary Jayne McCullough, Founder and CEO of Global Wordsmiths. “As individuals and organizations working for the greater good, it is our responsibility to increase access, engagement, and belonging among populations with limited English proficiency.”

As a funder committed to applying an equity approach to our work, we believe that engaging populations with limited English proficiency can be part of a strategic communications plan. Moreover, cultivating inclusivity and belonging among diverse populations necessitates being intentional about language accessibility. We hope this toolkit inspires ideas and can help your organization incorporate this important practice in your communications and engagement practices.

We invite you to access the toolkit here.

Update – October 2023: I recently shared some lessons about this work for nonprofits and philanthropy at the 2023 Communications Network. Access the presentation poster here. 

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