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Migrant Clinicians Network Steps Up Language Access; Launches New Website

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Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN) has long worked to make health care services and educational materials more accessible for the Latinx community, however, we still have a lot of work to do to reach our goal of full accessibility. MCN has numerous programs developed and offered in Spanish. For example, we were among the first to utilize the Project ECHO model for a Spanish-language audience, using the model for a Spanish-language-only learning collaborative on diabetes that we have offered for over five years. MCN’s virtual care coordination program, Health Network, supports immigrants, migrants, and asylum seekers from around the world to navigate the United States’ complex health system, regardless of their primary language. Numerous other programs create resources and worker, outreach team, and clinician support in Spanish and in a culturally sensitive manner. But we still have room to grow. 

In spite of our commitment to language access, we have struggled to translate the bulk of our material or keep Spanish-language materials up to date with ever-changing information about health, safety, and migration. We are committed to changing that. The first step in that process is our new website. We are progressing to ensure our Spanish-language materials are paired correctly with all of their English counterparts in order to make them easily accessible and more easily updated. 

With our new website comes new features. Improved search capabilities make it easier to find resources that best meet your needs by language, dividing it into kinds of resources, such as printable handouts and trifolds or videos.  We will also be able to use this feature to differentiate materials developed in regional Spanish like Puerto Rican Spanish. Our data tracking is also updated so we can better improve the site moving forward to meet your needs and our new share functions make it easier to send our resources or blogs to people in your community that may benefit from our content.

The second step we are taking towards greater language access is a new hire. MCN has begun the process of hiring a translation and communications coordinator to join the communications team. The person in this position will not just to take English resources and translate them into Spanish, but to transcreate  material. Transcreation is the act of developing resources in both languages in order to ensure the smoothest possible translation that guarantees the same quality of understanding among both our English- and Spanish- speaking communities, taking into account tone and presentation in order to not just capture the meaning, but the emotions and spirit of the material. We also hope this can improve our communication across languages, so no community gets left behind. This new position will allow us to release more materials at a faster rate and allows our bilingual staff to focus on the core aspects of their jobs, rather than translation. 

MCN is also striving for further flexibility and cultural competency when it comes to translations. Our Puerto Rico office works extensively on occupational health, but many of our resources like comic books are geared towards mainland Spanish speakers from Mexico and Central America. The translations that work for some do not work for all. “It’s not that we struggle with translation,” Marysel Pagan, MS, DrPH said about the work. “It’s about making it meaningful for the people who are reading it.” Right now, the Puerto Rico office is working on reillustrating and retranslating comic materials to better fit the needs and language of Puerto Rican farmworkers, working with a local artist to reflect the landscape and farms these farmworkers are in and using the knowledge of those who have lived in Puerto Rico to better fit the needs of their community. 

We have also learned about the need for flexibility through our work around COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, our “Vaccination Is…” campaign has offered more flexibility than previous resources, so people can download templates and alter the language and images to best fit the communities in which the resources will be used. This is something we will strive to replicate with future projects, not only improving our translations from the beginning, but ensuring others can continue to edit, improve, and alter these resources to best represent the people who will be seeing them. 

We hope this renewed commitment to language access will lead to a healthier future for those who need our support and will make us more effective at reaching the communities that need MCN’s health information most. 


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