Council website now available in over 100 languages but BSL for video still in early stages

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How the Bedford Borough Council website looks when translated into Italian. Image: Screenshot
How the Bedford Borough Council website looks when translated into Italian. Image: Screenshot

Bedford Borough Council’s website can be translated into over 100 different languages, including different versions of English, but BSL for information presented in content like videos is “in the fairly early stages of development”.

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Image: Malchev/Shutterstock

Yesterday (27 February) Maura Noone, the council’s chief officer, of practice, quality, standards and strategy, gave an update to the Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

She said that the Care Act 2014 introduced a statutory duty for Adult Social Care to promote the wellbeing of the local community.

This includes ensuring that all sections of the community had access to advice and information so that they could make informed choices about the support and care that they might need – including people whose first language is not English.

Ms Noone said that 78.6% of Bedfordians were born in the UK.

“But we can’t assume that all of those people will have English as their first language,” she said, “And the 21.4% of people were born outside of the UK – we can’t assume that all of those people will not have English as a first language.

“Most of the people who were born outside of the UK arrived as adults of working age, and most of those people have lived in the UK for at least ten years.

“And again, we can’t assume that they all now speak, read and understand English as well as somebody who’s grown up speaking English.

“But we can’t assume that they don’t speak English at all and don’t understand the written forms of English,” she said.

A report presented to the Committee said there are several areas of work to ensure that equal access is available, which includes the council’s website.

The website can be translated into 106 different languages, including seven forms of English.

“You can have Australian English, you can have US English, you can have English English,” Ms Noone said.

“The information will translate into the written word, but also the spoken word and it will offer information on all related matters,” she said.

Ms Noone added that those residents accessing support from Adult Services and are not able to use the internet will have social workers who can.

These can either log in at the resident’s home using a laptop or can print the information in the required language.

“We also have translation and interpretation services in the council available by request and in advance,” she said.

A report presented to the committee said the likely population whose first language is not English is approximately 22,000 people of all ages across a range of different communities.

Adding that it is not possible to predict with accuracy how many will need Adult Social Care, or how many cannot speak or understand English.

The committee was also told that while it should not be seen as an alternative to the council ensuring that services are accessible, many people who do not speak English as a first language prefer to make their own arrangements for interpretation.

This includes having children, relatives or friends to translate for them.

Ms Noone added that a rollout of information presented in British Sign Language is still “in the fairly early stages of development”.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

 
 
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