The Operations Transformation Fund (OTF) began in 2021 and the Office of Immigrant Affairs received funding for the Translation Services Project. The project came to be because the previous method, Google Translate, was inefficient and was often inaccurate. The objective of this project was to improve translation quality in ten target languages on and be intentional about the process. is the City’s public website and it provides detailed information about everything from trash pick-up schedules and a City-wide events calendar to job opportunities and online bill payment.

The team got to work using the following methods:

  • Soliciting feedback on current translations from the community through focus groups and equitable community engagement practices
    • Contributors were compensated, and the total amount paid to community members for their time and participation was approximately $7,600
  • Synthesizing findings into tools for translators, City staff, and community

Throughout the project timeline, the team was able to fully relaunch translation modules with improved translations. They also created a City style guide and multilingual glossary for translations, and established Translation Quality Coordinator as permanent position. The team was able to pay community organizations (total $10k) to continue this work for three months. is now available in ten languages:

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

The Language Access Philly team was able to highlight the success of the project and all of the ways they were able to engage with other City departments, including the Creative Services team, in the making of the video below.

Although the OTF project timeline has ended, the work doesn’t stop there. The Translation Services Project was so successful, it helped launch a follow-up project: Polyglot Philadelphia.  In 2022, in partnership with the CityGeo team, the Language Access Dashboard launched. It’s an interactive dashboard that displays the preferred language services used by residents when accessing City programs. The team has started a language access campaign to increase awareness of the improvements to and expand the quality to interpretation services.

Looking ahead the Language Access team has their eyes set on additional languages that weren’t included in the OTF funding. This year they are planning a new pilot program to engage multilingual employees in paid language access work.

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