In 2017, UC Merced staff members provided assistance to New Student Orientation to make sure that monolingual Spanish speaking parents and guests had access to information in their preferred language. This collaboration motivated Dulcemaria Anaya and Yesenia Curiel to submit a (previously known as) Diversity, Equity Inclusion (DEI) grant in spring 2018 to create the Language Accessibility Committee (LAC). The intent of the LAC grant was to establish a framework for conducting cultural and linguistical professional development opportunities for staff to be prepared to provide appropriate services to parents, students, and community members. During the year of the grant LAC collaborated with the various departments involved with Summer Orientation, Bobcat Day, and other special events by providing assistance with translation and interpretation.
In spring 2020, Dania Matos, Associate Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer requested that the LAC become an affinity professional group under the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion division. The purpose is to provide cultural and linguistic expertise in non-English languages.
The charge of the Language Accessibility Committee members is to:
• Create an inclusive environment where staff members can develop their cultural competencies when engaging parents, students and community members when representing the university.
• Identify experts each year such as faculty, staff, and community members that will review, and asses (terminology) oral fluency suitable for university programs. The dominant 2nd languages spoken on campus are Spanish and Hmong. Other languages will be incorporated as needed and with capacity.
• Advise campus leaders and the campus community when initiatives are developed to engage non-English speaking parents and community members.
The commitment is to attend a monthly meeting, to make recommendations about culturally and linguistic communication and to be available for university events to engage with parents, students, and community members.