The Austin Language Justice Collective is a member organization that seeks to bridge language barriers so that all people, regardless of what language they speak, can participate equally in society. As interpreters, translators and language justice advocates, we act as conduits of communication—allowing people who speak different languages to successfully communicate with each other and build mutual understanding. Our motto is “communities in dialogue” because we believe passionately in facilitating dialogue that builds relationships to address issues of economic and racial justice. We see interpretation as a particular opportunity for building grassroots power among many language groups.
In our increasingly globalized world, where people from various linguistic backgrounds live together in urban areas, it becomes challenging for people in multilingual communities to be able to effectively communicate with each other as well as with the agencies that serve them.
Austin’s multi-lingual population continues to grow as well as the demand for language access. Too many of the city’s residents are excluded from participating in the decisions that directly affect their lives because governmental institutions and public agencies are not always linguistically accessible to them. When this occurs, our democracy is threatened—language barriers inhibit the ability of the people to communicate with those individuals and institutions that represent them thus reducing the active participation of people in politics and civil life.
For the members of the Austin Language Justice Collective, interpreting and translating is about more than just providing a service to those that don’t speak English—it is about social justice and democracy, which is why we refer to our work as “language justice”. Leveling the language playing field and creating language equivalencies so that all people can equally be heard and understood, is the foundation of our work.