AquÃƒÂ se habla espaÃƒÂ±ol.
Translation: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Spanish spoken here.Ã¢â‚¬Â
And these words could be a message from the City of Burien to the members of its growing Spanish-speaking community.
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s because Burien recently added a Spanish-language phone line for people who call city hall (the direct # is 206-436-5556).
Here’s an audio sample of it (click the “Play” button below):
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If it’s well publicized, I think it will prove to be very useful and be well received by Latino residents,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Spanish translator Kenneth Barger Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the Ã¢â‚¬Å“voiceÃ¢â‚¬Â of the Spanish line.
This line can help bring members of the Latino community into the Ã¢â‚¬Å“mainstreamÃ¢â‚¬Â of the larger local community, Barger says, especially Ã¢â‚¬Å“if it is part of a broader effort, as is the case with the translated documents available in Burien, the [cityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s] new radio station with Spanish material, and the bilingual newsletter.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Of particular importance is the practical information for emergencies, crime prevention, and so forthÃ¢â‚¬Â that the line offers Spanish-speaking residents, Ã¢â‚¬Å“because a community is only safe when all of its members are safe.
The Spanish line is available both to people who call the cityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 24/7 information line (206-241-4647, or directly at 206-436-5556) and press Ã¢â‚¬Å“2Ã¢â‚¬Â at the prompt, and those who call city hall during business hours and request certain information in Spanish.
The lineÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s five Spanish-language information categories are:
- Business licenses
- Reduced cable television rates
- How to file a citizen-action reques
- Community information, which includes:
- Emergency preparedness
- Free Burien shuttle
- English-Spanish conversational group
- Crime prevention Block Watch
- Citizenship/naturalization preparedness
Carolyn Towle, a city accountant who also manages its communications systems, said the idea for a Spanish line originated with the cityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Communications Committee.
Last spring, says Towle, she was approached by members of the cityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s CommunicationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Committee, who suggested that answers in Spanish be provided for commonly asked questions received at the front desk.
At that time, she had to say no. The cityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s existing communications technology could not support the system they wanted for it. But upgrades made as part of the move into the new Burien City Hall/Library building last June made it possible.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I went back after the move and said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœOK, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got the technology now and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to move forward with it,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬Â Towle says. Next, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I want to the gals at the front desk and they put together a two-page list, a script, of the frequently asked questionsÃ¢â‚¬Â they wanted answered in Spanish.
They then talked with Steve Botkin, a public relations consultant for the city, who provided ideas for the Spanish line including incorporating it with BurienÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s public radio station (540 AM).
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This line is for information only,Ã¢â‚¬Â Towle notes. Ã¢â‚¬Å“There is no voice mail for callers to leave messages for city staff.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Barger adds, Ã¢â‚¬Å“This part of the county has an even greater Latino population than elsewhere in the state, so if anyone is going to offer such a service, it’s great that it’s here. This sort of welcoming gesture makes people feel more a part of the community, which makes the whole community stronger.Ã¢â‚¬Â