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The City has been working for several months to expand language services on its website. Photo Courtesy of The City of Philadelphia.
The City has been working for several months to expand language services on its website. Photo Courtesy of The City of Philadelphia.

Phila.gov expands translation services with the site now available in Spanish

The City’s website is now also available in Chinese, with plans of making it available in nine different languages.

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The City website, phila.gov, is now available in two new languages — Spanish and Chinese.

The expanded list of languages is part of the Translation Services Expansion project made possible through the City’s Operation Transformation Fund, led by the Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) and the Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT). 

The project and partnership have allowed for a total revision of the phila.gov translation process. The team worked with linguists from a translation vendor to create a glossary and translate the website using sophisticated tools and resident feedback. It's an effort that aligns with the City's announcement that community engagement and language access as among its top priorities. 

This effort also led to the appointment of Kahlil Thomas as the City’s new Translation Services Coordinator. His role has been essential for increasing engagement capacity with multilingual community members. 

Since December 2022, Thomas has hosted 11 focus groups with participants representing 10 different languages and 39 countries of origin. 

His role also saw him write a style guide explaining how to navigate translations and deliverables in multiple languages. He also improved the citywide glossary, while continuing to update it based on user feedback. 

New features on the site include a new language navigation bar and a streamline for translation requests to the city’s language access providers. 

This allows for quality upgrades or revisions director from the vendor and enables content creators to automatically have a large majority of their content translated with no additional effort. 

To maintain equity, the team is receiving consultation for the Equitable Engagement Toolkit pilot, which allows them to use tools, engage with experts and have discussions in a community of practice.

The City has announced that in the coming months, users can anticipate translations in seven more languages, with goals of making the site available in nine languages total, including Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, French, Swahili, Arabic, and Portuguese. 

There is a particular focus on Black immigrants to the city, who make up about 20% of Philadelphians and are often the least-resourced immigrant groups.

Many African and Caribbean organizations have campaigned for this, as the City has worked to target Black immigrants and the organizations who serve them in its outreach. This includes those in racially mixed language communities, such as Spanish, French or Arabic. 

Users can use the translation feedback webpage to submit questions or feedback here as the City continues to work on further expanding the translation services on its site. 

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