Blog post by Kahlil Thomas, Language Expert, OIA

The Operations Transformation Fund (OTF) blog series gives a brief overview of its projects. This blog post highlights a project led by the Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) and the Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT) to improve Philadelphia language access services for webpages.

The project will take a look at the City’s language services and improve them via new protocols, improved guidelines, and community engagement. The City will roll out improved translations on webpages in nine target languages:

  • Arabic
  • French
  • Haitian Creole
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Simplified Chinese (Mandarin)
  • Spanish
  • Swahili
  • Vietnamese

What stage is this project at now?

OIT used OTF funds to hire a software engineer, Khristian Marcial, to take on the technical element of the expansion. Khris’ work will allow visitors on sites to access and engage more easily with higher-quality translations.

OIA hired a new language expert, Kahlil Thomas, at the beginning of May. Kahlil and the language access team will meet with other organizations, agencies and experts to discuss how to improve translations from a language perspective. The teams are also working with the community—and the City wants to work with you! Improving language access will rely heavily on feedback from the city’s multilingual residents.

In the coming weeks, OIA will create language access surveys to understand how to make the best impact for each language community. OIA will also be conducting pop-up activities and workshops at City Hall and throughout the City to get a better understanding of how different language communities in Philly use and respond to our services.

This post was originally written in English. If you have feedback on the translation of the post, or other thoughts to share about this OTF project or public language access in your language, please email Kahlil Thomas, Translation Services Coordinator (

Stay up to date by following @phillyOIA on Twitter and Instagram to find out where and when we’ll be out speaking with your speech community!