In 2016, Dulcemaria Garcia and Yesenia Curiel discussed the importance of having proficient Spanish-speaking staff members. It was evident that bilingual staff members had different skills in translation and interpretations. They researched past practices and engaged staff in informal focus groups to understand the need better. They named the affinity group the Language Accessibility Committee (LAC) and formally submitted a Diversity, Equity Inclusion (DEI) grant application in 2017. LAC received funding and got to work in Fall 2017-2018. The LAC grant intended to establish a framework for conducting cultural and linguistic professional development opportunities for staff to be prepared to provide appropriate services to parents, students, and community members in Spanish. During the grant year, LAC collaborated with the various departments involved with Summer Orientation, Bobcat Day, and other special events by assisting with translation and interpretation.
In spring 2020, Dania Matos, Associate Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer requested that the LAC become a professional affinity group under the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion division. The purpose is to provide cultural and linguistic expertise in non-English languages.
The mission of the Language Accessibility Committee is to:
• Create an inclusive environment where faculty and staff members can develop cultural and linguistic competencies when engaging with parents, students, and community members when representing the university as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). LAC will use a Language Justice framework to value and respect all languages and communities.
• Identify experts each year such as faculty, staff, and community members that will review, and assess (terminology) oral fluency suitable for university programs. The dominant second languages spoken on campus are Spanish and Hmong. Other languages will be incorporated as needed and with capacity.
• Advise campus leaders and the campus community when developing initiatives to engage non-English speaking parents and community members.
The commitment is to attend a monthly meeting, make recommendations about cultural and linguistic communication, and be available (when possible) for university events to engage with parents, students, and community members.