By Cynthia Richie Terrell on July 30, 2021
by Cynthia Richie Terrell and Alex-Michelle Parr
There is a common misconception that English is the national language of the United States, when in fact, the U.S. has no official language at the federal level. And, although English remains the de facto language of the U.S., more than 350 languages are spoken across the country with roughly 91 million people speaking a language other than English at home.
Despite the linguistic diversity that exists in the United States, language comprehension continues to be a structural barrier for many individuals—especially when it comes to voter education materials, electoral reform information, and candidate recruitment and training. With such a large percentage of our population having a native language other than English, many people remain at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding pertinent voting information, resources about running for office, and policy proposals that advance women’s representation and leadership.
Inclusive and accessible translation practices should become commonplace for government agencies, private corporations, and nonprofit organizations alike. The team at RepresentWomen has been working with Wolfestone Group’s Translation Services to ensure critical components of our research and outreach materials are accessible in the most commonly spoken languages of the United States.
Our Spanish, Chinese, French, Tagalog, and Vietnamese microsites are already available and we are in the process of creating a microsite in Arabic, as well. The translated microsites include our research on ranked choice voting, the Fair Representation Act, international research and rankings for gender-balanced representation, our Gender Parity Index, and a glossary of terms unique to the American political system.
Cynthia Richie Terrell, the Executive Director of RepresentWomen said of the importance of translating the website: “By evolving our website and creating a more accessible source of information and resources, we are working to ensure that all of us, regardless of English proficiency, can fully engage in our democracy as voters, candidates, and lawmakers.”
Alex-Michelle Parr, Managing Director of Wolfestone Group, commented: “We are delighted to be working with RepresentWomen on this vital project. As a female-led company, we have always encouraged women to step up and fulfill their potential.
Our company values are very closely aligned with RepresentWomen and it means a lot to us to contribute to the goal of increasing women's representation in elected office by offering resources and material in a variety of languages.”
Creating language accessibility is a vital step to ensure all women, regardless of their primary language, can run, win, serve, lead and engage in our democratic system. RepresentWomen is happy to be engaged in the process of making our research and tools accessible to individuals regardless of their English language proficiency. We hope that others will join us!