Imagine going into labor, and not being able to speak the same language as your doctor or nurse. What if you needed to call the police for help during an unsafe situation, but were unable able to describe the problem in the language the officer speaks?

In both of these real-life Wapello County scenarios, clear communication was an urgent necessity. Thanks in part of a Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund Grant, Wapello County emergency providers were able to access the on-demand interpretation service from Iowa International Center (IIC) to create better communications and assist both individuals.

IIC’s free 24/7 Emergency Interpretation and 24/7 Housing Interpretation Hotlines, break down language barriers. Limited English-speakers and service providers understand one another with the help of skilled interpreters. “The 24/7 phone interpretation service helps me do my job,” said a member of local law enforcement.

At the beginning of the pandemic, IIC reported an immediate uptick in the number of calls to Interpretation Hotlines from Wapello County. Additionally, the length of calls and languages requested increased:  19 languages and dialects have been requested in the last year, reflecting Wapello County’s diverse population and the increasing need for interpretation resources.

“Language is an integral part of life that connects us with others and opens access to necessities in the community. When language barriers are eliminated, quality of life improves as well,” said Elyse Pate, Global Languages Manger at Iowa International Center.

As all of Iowa prepares to welcome more immigrants and refugees in the coming year, more attention is being turned toward language support. Everyone deserves equal access to a community’s services and resources, and IIC is hopeful that the free 24/7 Interpretation Hotline will continue to serve those in need.

You can learn more about the Iowa International Center’s free 24/7 Interpretation Hotlines here: https://iowainternationalcenter.org/iowa_translation_interpretation_service/.

Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund grant applications are currently being accepted through February 28th, 2022. To apply, visit https://www.ottumwalegacy.org/for-grantees-scholars/bright-ideas-community-enrichment-fund/