South Bend makes push to hear from Spanish speakers but website - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

South Bend makes push to hear from Spanish speakers but website and hotline are in English

South Bend makes push to hear from Spanish speakers but website and hotline are in English

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South Bend City leaders put out an appeal.  They wanted to hear from everyone about how to improve the city's parks, that included hearing from Spanish speaking residents.  But when we checked the website and hotline the city set up it was only in English.  So we started asking more questions.

At a press event on Tuesday talking about CityVoice Deputy Mayor Mark Neal said, "I would say we've been making a real effort to make sure the hispanic voices are, the latino voices in our community can be heard, so CityVoice is one more opportunity for them to call in, they can leave a message. We also want to make sure we're linking them to our website where we have the questionnaire in Spanish."

The website the City gave us in the press release is all in English.

On Thursday Sam Centellas, the Executive Director of La Casa de Amistad, showed us another website where you can find the Spanish version.
"They're promoting the parks master plan page which doesn't have a link to the Spanish survey so hopefully they'll get that on there," Centellas said.

The CityVoice hotline is also all in English.  Centellas said, "that's a challenge.  They can obviously leave a message in Spanish but they're going to have to listen to the questions in English."  But he said many Spanish speakers may not be willing to do that.  "If they start off with a message right away that doesn't have click two for Spanish a lot of folks are just going to give up on that."

So we went back to Deputy Mayor Neal.  On Thursday he said, "We'll continue to work with folks to make sure they have the opportunity to provide responses in Spanish."
 
The City admits this is something they need to improve on in the future.  It's been a lesson for them but right now they said it would cost hundreds of dollars to re-record the messages on CityVoice.

That's why they are heavily depending on groups like La Casa de Amistad to help them get the feedback they're seeking from the Spanish speaking community.

"They're very genuine in that effort, so we're trying to do our best to get the community to give their input," Centellas said.

Another thing La Casa de Amistad said could help is having paper copies of the parks survey for people to fill out.  Centellas said a lot of people they speak to aren't very tech savvy or don't have internet at home to be able to take the survey online.

The City also said they are using some of their employees to help with this.  They said there are some 311 liaisons who speak Spanish and an employee in the Mayor's office who speaks Spanish,  that will help with translating.

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