To reduce disparities within social determinants of health (SDOH), everyone needs equal access to opportunities and information. And for those with Limited English Proficiency (LEP), language challenges can contribute to many SDOHs. Healthcare is one of many areas where LEP individuals may face language roadblocks.

For example, recent research pointed out that more language access to information dissemination could help to reduce healthcare inequities. The study found that communities that fell in the CDC’s social vulnerability index (SVI) were hit harder by COVID-19. The SVI measures demographic data such as English proficiency. The research showed that “counties with high populations of non-English speakers were found to have higher rates of both COVID-19 incidence and mortality.” More timely health information for LEP communities could help to reduce health inequities.

Multilingual Outreach

Yet while “having” language access is without a doubt very valuable to diverse communities, organizations need to promote that it’s available and accessible before the need arises. For example, if you’re hosting a community event, and you translate the invite, but then don’t share it in places where your audience can see it, how are LEP community members going to know about it?

Anticipating language access via outreach can lead to higher participation of diverse community members ultimately resulting in a more accurate representation of our American people. Let’s look at different levels of language assistance and ways to be proactive with multilingual outreach.

Reactive vs. Proactive Language Assistance

As a language service provider, we see various ways that companies and organizations provide language assistance.

#1 Basic Reactive: No Translations Unless Asked

They don’t translate content unless someone asks them. For example, their website and documentation are in English only, and there’s no mention that translations could be available.

#2 Reactive: No Translations, but You Can Request Them

They don’t proactively translate content, but they do offer a place where you can ask for translations. For example, they might have a page that says if you’d like to request language access or accommodations, do so here.

#3 Proactive: Translated Content

This type of company has translated content plus ways to request translations. For example, their website is localized, so a person can select the Spanish version. As a result, this audience will get a better understanding of the available services.

#4 Proactive: Translated Content with Outreach

This group has translated content, and they also spread awareness that they’re a source of information for diverse communities. For example, a company may contact a local Latin American Association to share a flyer containing information about their services or an upcoming event in Spanish.

Being Proactive Can Help Reduce Health Disparities for LEP Communities and Individuals

Having proactive translations with multilingual outreach:

  1. Encourages those often left out of conversations to attend, participate, and be involved, which then in turn gives an organization a more accurate and true reflection of the community.
  2. Positively impacts communities that are often marginalized, giving them access to the same resources and opportunities that monolingual English speakers have.
  3. Promotes equal opportunity for all. As a country with no official language, it’s especially important as we consider the sheer number of LEPs in the US.
  4. Improves quality of life. More awareness leads to more informed decision-making, affecting local communities and beyond.
For example, climate change affects how we live our lives and the quality of our lives by way of pollution and more. But if climate change information isn’t actively shared in all languages, how are all people expected to know, understand, and contribute to change? And since the impacts of climate change are long-lasting and steps to revert it aren’t immediate, it’s more important than ever for people to know about it and pass down information to future generations. Sophia Kianna, a 19-year-old climate activist, is fighting the accessibility gap in climate change resources in the U.N. Kianna is a founder of Climate Cardinals, an international nonprofit that translates documents related to global warming. When Kianna visited her parents’ homeland of Iran, she saw how people knew little about climate change and decided to do something about it. “Climate change is disproportionately affecting the middle east and temperatures there are rising more than twice the global average,” she explained. “I decided to translate climate information to teach them because I realized there was very little information in Farsi which is their native language.” source

8 Ways to Be Proactive with a Multilingual Outreach

Here are 8 ways to be proactive with your translation strategy to reach others.

#1 Translate Your Website

It goes without saying that you must translate your website! Many people first look for information online, so make sure you translate your website into your threshold languages.

#2 Localize Marketing Emails

Create bilingual or multilingual emails. Or take it one step further and segment your emails to go out in the language your audience prefers.

#3 Translate Social Media Posts

Like emails, create bilingual or multilingual social media posts. You can also create translations of the English version.

#4 Translate Print and Mail Communications

Translate your outreach mail, flyers, brochures, and other print materials into your threshold languages to have available or pass out in tandem with English versions.

#5 Create Event Invites with Translation in Mind

Create multilingual invites with the clearly marked type(s) of language assistance that you’ll provide for the event.

#6 Hire Bilingual Field Representatives

If you have bilingual individuals in the field who can talk one-on-one, you can strategically place them and hire those with skills that match local threshold languages.

#7 Find Partner Organizations to Share Information

If you have multilingual content, whether that content is in the form of email newsletters, bulletin boards, groups, forums, etc., find opportunities to share it with local communities. For example, see if you can put flyers about your upcoming gathering in a place where your audience frequently gathers.

#8 Translate and Share Critical and Timely Information

If you produce critical and timely information, such as hurricane evacuation procedures, translate this content for your LEP communities. If this information is only accessible in English, LEP individuals are at a safety risk. Make sure that translations are available and provide translated instructions for where they can find them. Here’s a resource on how to best connect with your Spanish-speaking audience during an emergency.


Translating content is undoubtedly a step in the right direction in helping LEPs reduce health disparities. Taking it to the next level by proactively seeking ways to get that information in front of the right audience will have an even greater impact. After all, taking an approach to language access that’s proactive will better serve everyone and contribute to a more inclusive society. To learn more, here’s a resource for strategies for outreach to families with LEP. Translating everything at once or every time something new comes up can be overwhelming. A language service provider (LSP) can help strategize ways to help you with your translation plan–things like identifying your threshold languages and reducing costs and workload while still maintaining best practices. At Avantpage, we provide translation and localization services, interpreting, accessibility services, and more. To learn more about our services, contact us at [email protected] or (530) 750-2040.