BSD’s Language Access Coordinator, Marta Trilles Ramos, and Dr. Ricardo Macias, Director of Multilingual Learners Programs, present at the April 4 School Board Meeting to discuss and demonstrate innovations in language access in the Bellevue School District. This exciting work vastly improves how messages are shared and received in the Bellevue School District.

Key Priorities for Language Access in BSD

New state requirements for school districts regarding language access for families, communities, and public schools were set forth last school year. These were not limits but great starting points for improving language access for our learning community. The Bellevue School District is among the first in the state to assign a language access coordinator as a full-time administrative role.

Tasked with the responsibility of improving two-way communication for families, BSD’s Language Access Coordinator, Marta Trilles Ramos, shared with the school board improvements in the districtwide language access process. She and Director of Multilingual Learner Programs and current Acting Principal at Newport Heights Elementary School, Dr. Ricardo Macias, demonstrated the use of new technology tools that assist with communication to families who prefer receiving information in a language other than English. With over 100 languages spoken in the district, Trilles and Macias shared four key priorities and components for efficient language access:

  • Engagement of our diverse community, including families, students and BSD staff members representing numerous departments and schools. Emphasis was given to elevating the voices of those who we have historically underserved and to recognize the importance of collaborative efforts in achieving our shared goals.
  • Commitment to ongoing support and training to empower individuals with the necessary skills to elevate our community’s linguistic assets.
  • Providing a robust communication plan as a cornerstone of our project, ensuring that information is disseminated clearly and comprehensively across multiple channels.
  • Exploring various technology tools to enhance language accessibility and human connection and finding innovative solutions to facilitate communication and engagement for all community members.

Together, these components form a comprehensive framework that underscores our commitment to promoting linguistic diversity and fostering an inclusive environment where the voices of our community members are heard and valued.

In-Person Interpretation and Translation

The Bellevue School District prioritizes in-person interpretation and translation and is committed to hiring caring interpreters and translators. Currently, we have a team of 124 on-demand interpreters and translators who have passed a language access proficiency test and completed online training designed to meet the needs of our community. If interpreters or translators are unavailable to take a specific request, we can work with outside agencies in an ongoing process to add as many languages as possible.

Machine Translation and Interpretation Devices

Two adults stand facing each other using a translation device in front of an audience and presentation screen.

There are technological options when interpreters and translators are not available. The district now has devices that translate two-way conversations using a district-issued device or cellular phone. The Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) awarded the district a $25,000 technology grant to purchase additional machine interpretation devices to assist staff with communicating with families in the language they prefer. Also, the district can now communicate messages delivered at events to large groups who can simultaneously customize their cell phones to hear the message in their preferred language.

During this school year, the district has developed and implemented a customized interpreter request system, simplifying the process for staff to request interpreters automatically and keep track of the request.

Learn More

Visit BSD’s Language Access webpage to learn more and view the Language Access Notification in 13 different languages.

The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.