IIB Translates Erie County Department of Health Newsletters into Five Languages
The International Institute of Buffalo (IIB) is vital in the Erie County Department of Health’s effort to expand language access to underserved communities. Our Interpreting & Translation Department has teamed up with the new Office of Health Equity to translate monthly newsletters from English into five of the other most common languages used in Western New York– Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, Swahili, and Burmese.
The newsletters tackle essential health issues, including Winter Preparation, Summer Heat, Pregnancy, Living with Disabilities, Grief, Food Access, and Mental Health. They include factoids, infographics, suggestions, and additional resources for assistance. They are distributed widely throughout Erie County, available through public libraries and via the Department of Health’s distribution network. Accessible on the internet, there are also eight thousand print copies in circulation.
Kelly Wofford, Director of the Office of Health Equity, says the county’s collaboration with the International Institute of Buffalo is integral to helping the underserved communities it aims to reach.
“We have to meet people where they are at the most basic level. The U.S. does not have a single language; we need to make sure they have access and the law requires it,” Wofford said. “Not everyone speaks English; it’s not their first language, we need to think about how we can reach them. If you look at the law, we have poor health outcomes, and we need to reach out.”
IIB translator Ryan Green says past work with the DOH led to the relationship that continues today. “They send us their files, and we’ll prepare them for our linguists for translation,” Green said. “We’ll also have a final meeting before we format them to make them look exactly like the original copy.”
However, the benefits extend beyond community members needing health information they can understand. “The work that the International Institute does impacts our daily work here, outside of the newsletter,” Wofford said.” “Because of our conversations, we don’t use colloquialisms or idioms, and we have talks on where that comes from and forces us to be aware.”
The Office of Health Equity says efforts to increase county language access is ongoing. “Our office is charged with figuring out the connectors of drivers of health and outcomes, what we can do as a county to change systems,” says Project Coordinator Danielle Rovillo. “How we work and operate focuses on no matter who you are, from what side of town, or your financial resources does not mean you have to be sick or die early.”
You can access all available newsletters in your language by clicking here. Scroll to the bottom of the Office of Health Equity webpage to find the translated newsletters.
The Office of Health Equity was officially created when County Executive Mark Poloncarz signed the Erie County Healthy Equity Act in January 2022. Its mission: to advocate for equal access to preventive health care for minority and disadvantaged residents in Erie County.
The International Institute of Buffalo provides reliable, quality foreign language interpreting and translation in more than 100 languages. These services may be requested at any time, 24 hours per day, seven days a week, and by multiple delivery methods: onsite, video remote, and telephone. The office will also seek ways to prevent prevalent diseases and conditions among minority and disadvantaged populations. Click here to learn more or request interpreting or translation services.