Mayor announces new policy to break down language barriers in Houston

Language access order calls for translation of essential public info into five other languages

HOUSTON - Mayor Annise Parker Wednesday announced a new policy to break down language barriers in Houston.

Executive Order No. 1-17 will improve the delivery and access of essential public information and services in the areas of public safety, health services and economic development, the mayor said.

The language access order calls for the translation of essential public information into five languages other than English for which there is the greatest need among Houston residents.

"Whether it is to help plan for a hurricane or ways to reduce the possibility of becoming a crime victim, all Houstonians should have access to vital information that the city provides," said Mayor Parker. "We are a community of many languages.  This executive order challenges us to better serve our constituency, our global business community and visitors.  It's a step toward making Houston one of the most inclusive cities in the world."

Over the next two months, all departments that provide essential services directly to the public will designate a language access coordinator charged with overseeing the development of a language access implementation plan.

The Office of International Communities (OIC), a division of the Department of Neighborhoods, will oversee and coordinate the planning process, which is expected to be completed within six months.

OIC will conduct a data-driven language needs assessment, working closely with city departments, international community leaders and stakeholders and university-based experts to identify the five languages that will be adopted into the plan.

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.