Detroit is a diverse city with numerous opportunities for impact, and a population that is eager to seize them. As the city pushes forward with its celebrated economic rejuvenation, startups and small businesses have been at the center of these efforts. TechTown serves these ventures as an incubator and accelerator, helping entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses. The organization is seeking to increase the impact of its services in immigrant communities within Detroit, by enhancing its language accessibility and cultural competency. This is where we come in.
This summer, my teammate and I are working to assess TechTown’s language of program design, materials, and service delivery to understand where the organization stands in regard to language accessibility. Following our assessment, we will offer recommendations for what practical adjustments can be made to programming, marketing and communications to serve the ultimate goal— to deepen TechTown’s commitment to equitable access to all its programs.
Our focus will be on Spanish-language accessibility, based on the understanding of the language demographics within Detroit. Developing a model for institutionalizing Spanish language accessibility across the organization will inform future language access initiatives involving other languages like Arabic and Bangla.
Our assessment involves:
- analysis of TechTown’s websites, social media, and other marketing materials
- interviews with different teams within TechTown, including Programs, Marketing and Communications, and Systems Innovation
- interviews with Spanish-speaking clients and alumni
For the organization, our final report will offer guidance on the following:
- A thorough understanding of the mission for all stakeholders involved. We need the teams to understand who needs to deliver this mission, and to see themselves in that role.
- Practical changes that can be applied even on a marginal basis across teams within the organization towards this goal. These could include available translation services, and different approaches of applying them.
- Different iterations of interventions in programming and services, which will involve the target community all the way from program/ service design, to marketing, and delivery.
- Suggestions for building capacity for cultural competency across the organization.
- The tailwinds that are helping this goal move forward, and possible headwinds that might be encountered along the way.
- Clients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) will have easy access to services they would otherwise miss, or have high difficulty accessing.
- Increased language access will promote equitable service delivery, thus promoting social justice within Detroit.