Ensuring equity for non-English speakers.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires all federally funded programs to provide meaningful language access to people with limited English proficiency. Going beyond this baseline, the OSU Extension Service is implementing a comprehensive Language Access Plan. It ensures LEP populations can access programs, activities and services, and it makes serving these communities more efficient for Extension operations statewide.

Developed in part through bilingual listening sessions with staff across Oregon, the plan includes: 

  • Transport, an online portal to submit documents for translation or get a price quote to help with planning. Extension units are expected to budget for language access costs.
  • Language Line Professional Interpreting Services, available to OSU Extension employees for on-demand, over-the-phone or scheduled on-site interpretation. Phone interpreters are available for virtually all languages spoken in Oregon. 
  • A Spanish version of the Extension website, along with a Translated Document Library.

“It’s our mission in Extension, and also for Oregon State University, to be inclusive, and that includes people who speak other languages,” said Ana Lu Fonseca, OSU Extension’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion. “It’s the law to have equitable communication to multilingual communities, and it’s also the right thing to do.”

Fonseca explains that the federal government uses a four-factor analysis to ensure language accessibility, which can be used as a needs assessment:

  1. Number or portion of LEP persons in a target or eligible population.
  2. Frequency of contact the organization’s programs have with LEP audiences.
  3. Nature and importance of the program or activity.
  4. Organizational resources available to implement language access services.

The Language Access Plan centralizes information so that all Extension offices and programs in Oregon can have clear guidance, tools and resources that support what they need to do in their local or program context, Fonseca said.

The Spanish Extension website went live in summer 2022, following two years of research, planning and web development.

“This was a significant undertaking from a web development perspective because we wanted to do more than the minimum. We weren’t just adding a widget like Google Translate,” said Jennifer Alexander, director of Extension communications. “We reviewed and custom-translated critical content. We made sure the homepage was accurate and menu labels were correct.”

OSU Extension also started a Spanish-language Facebook account in fall 2022. Across Extension, printed materials are created or translated as needed for intended populations. For example, Extension’s nutrition education program has four cultural workgroups — African Heritage, Indigenous Peoples, Latinx and Pasifika — to make sure materials are linguistically correct and culturally relevant.

Alexander said Extension’s Language Access Plan supports Oregon State’s DEI strategies.

“Because we work so closely with communities across the state, sometimes we can advise the university on ways to make other efforts inclusive and welcoming."