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Building a City that Responds to All Citizens


In 2007, the city established a Translation and Interpretation Policy as part of its Immigrant and Refugee Initiative with the goal to promote fair and equitable access to city services for individuals with limited English proficiency. Since that time, the initiative has been adopted by all the departments of the city of Seattle.  To fulfill this goal, SDOT works with staff to ensure that translations are available for all vital documents which provide essential information for accessing basic SDOT services and benefits.  One such document is SDOT’s Winter Weather (snow and ice information) brochure pictured above which is available in the six primary languages as recognized by the Federal Census, Seattle Public Schools and Seattle Municipal Court; those are:  Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Somali, Tagalog and Korean (not shown). 

Translation requirements vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, so SDOT works with the planning and construction project teams to determine how best to accommodate the people in the effected community.  If there is a community meeting scheduled, our goal is to make sure interpreters are available for individuals who would benefit from those services. The city uses pre-approved vendors for translation and interpretation services which have undergone a rigorous selection process to ensure the quality of their service. If a citizen would like to attend an SDOT event and will need an interpreter to be present, she or he may call the department before the event and specify what language is needed.

In addition, SDOT is always looking for volunteers who are willing to offer their time and skills to help translate and assist staff at open houses and public meetings.  SDOT’s liaison for the department’s implementation of the translation and interpreting policy explains that one of the biggest hurdles facing the program is getting and maintaining volunteers from various ethnically-diverse neighborhoods to help spread the word about this program to their communities.  If you, or someone you know, might want to volunteer, please send an email to .