The City Council’s vision for Bellevue opens with the statement “Bellevue welcomes the world. Our diversity is our strength.” Over the past thirty years, the percent of Bellevue residents born in a foreign country has jumped from 13% to 42% and continues to grow. The percent of residents speaking a language other than English at home shows similar trends, growing from 14% in 1990 to 45% in 2021. With these trends in mind, the City Council’s vision statement has never been more relevant. Those who speak different languages, are of different nationalities, and bring different perspectives from around the globe are a key part of Bellevue’s diversity. Regardless of the language you speak, the City of Bellevue is committed to providing excellent customer service and ensuring every voice is heard.
Below are just some of the ways in which the city is working to improve access for those who speak languages other than English.
These services are provided at no cost to residents.
The City of Bellevue uses LanguageLine Solutions to provide 24/7 access to interpretation in many languages. When requested by residents, staff can call the LanguageLine and access an interpreter in their language on demand.
LanguageLine can be used for both in-person and over-the-phone conversations.
"I Speak" cards
All public-facing buildings and field staff should be equipped with "I speak" cards. These cards say "Point to your language. An interpreter will be called. The interpreter is provided at no cost to you," in many languages.
Explanations of city documents
All public-facing city documents should have an "Information," "Questions" or "Interpreter" icon on them, along with a phone number. If you have questions or want an explanation of the document, call the phone number on any of those icons. Staff will then be able to call in a telephonic interpreter who can explain the document and answer questions in your language.
Translation and interpretation
The city makes every effort to make information, events, services, and programs accessible to all people, including those who speak languages other than English.
The city works to provide translation of vital information in the top eight languages whenever possible. Additionally, the city makes every effort to fulfill reasonable modification requests for translation of public-facing city documents or interpretation at city events.
To make a request for translation or interpretation, contact the city staff member associated with the document, event, or program, and ask for translation or interpretation in your language.
If you need support locating the appropriate individual, email Service First or call (425) 452-6800.
Interpretation headsets are available for public meetings, public events, large groups, or in other cases where they may be needed. The headsets are connected to audio transceivers that relay the voice of a live interpreter directly into headsets provided for residents. In this way, residents can receive interpretation without having to stand directly next to an interpreter, making the headsets perfect for tours, large groups, and events where multiple languages are being interpreted.
Residents can request interpretation headsets when they request interpretation. Please request headsets at least 48 hours in advance.
While the technology comes with headsets available for resident use, residents may also choose to bring their own headphones so long as they have a 3.5mm headphone jack plug (standard).
As part of the city’s commitment to accessibility, the city provides CART/captioning services when requested by residents.
CART stands for Communication Access Realtime Transcription and involves the live transcription of spoken words into captions that can be projected onto a screen or device. This can be especially useful for people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, or prefer to use captions.
Residents may request CART for a city event or program by contacting the staff member associated with that event. If you need support locating the appropriate individual, email Service First or call (425) 452-6800.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act employee training
Nearly all City of Bellevue staff are required to participate in the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act employee training, taught as a partnership between the Transportation and Human Resources departments. This training teaches staff about Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the city’s responsibilities. Below are just a few of the topics staff learn about:
- The language resources available at the city.
- How to best meet the needs of those who make reasonable modification requests.
- How to improve language access beyond the requirements of federal law to create a truly inclusive city.
- How the requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are embedded in city-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
The Title VI Core Team
In addition to external resident resources, the city also has an internal Title VI Core Team, which was formed in 2022. It is comprised of staff from every department. These staff members serve as experts and advisers on Title VI within their department and help drive efforts to improve language access for the public. They also often work with departments to fulfill reasonable modification requests for translation and interpretation. The Title VI Core Team is led by the ADA, Title VI, and Equal Opportunity Officer. Check out some of the city's recent language access successes:
Translated lifeguard shirts
Lifeguards stand watch at many City of Bellevue pools and parks, equipped with red rescue tubes and lifeguard shirts. The Bellevue Parks department translated lifeguard shirts into Bellevue’s top languages, making it easier for residents who speak a variety of languages to locate a lifeguard when needed.
Translated rent assistance flyers
The city of Bellevue Parks department has translated rental assistance flyers into Bellevue’s top languages. Residents can find translated flyers at local libraries, community centers, Bellevue Mini City Hall, and other locations, including online on the city’s Rental and Mortgage Assistance webpage.
Be "bear aware"
Much of Bellevue is bear country. The city Parks department has translated vital information about staying safe in bear country into Bellevue’s top languages. The updated flyers and signage also include helpful icons and images.
Winter weather guide
From icy roads to power outages, winter weather impacts everyone. Knowing how to prepare for and survive severe winter weather is essential. The city’s winter weather guide has been translated into Bellevue’s top languages and is available on the city’s Snow and Ice hazards webpage.
Language-conscious intake processes
Title VI core team members have developed city intake processes to evaluate language needs where appropriate, ensuring that residents have the best access possible to services when needed.
Evaluation of public-facing information
In 2023, Title VI core team members conducted a city-wide assessment to evaluate all public-facing information for Title VI compliance. This assessment included translating numerous vital documents into Bellevue’s top languages.