Bridging the Gap: Translation Services - Little Tokyo Service Center

Bridging the Gap: Translation Services

yasue's translation work

Our voice is a powerful tool, but the language barrier for non-native English speakers can suppress their voices, or worse, make them susceptible to scams. Yasue Katsuragi, Community Organizer at LTSC, empowers monolingual Japanese speakers and non-native English speakers through her translation work and  advocating for translation services on their behalf.

“It’s important to advocate for and provide translation services for them, because it lets their voices be heard. We advocate for them to make sure that the county knows there’s a need for in-language materials and translation services during things like elections,” explained Yasue.

LTSC’s work is historically rooted in uplifting marginalized voices through language support and advocacy work. Today, this work is continued by staff like Yasue, who ensure that community members still have a voice, even if they don’t speak English.

Recently, Yasue and LTSC staff hosted voter education workshops ahead of the California Primary Elections. They went over information like how to vote and provided unbiased briefs on the candidates. Though voters can receive their voting materials and sample ballots in language, Yasue pointed out that the voting machines don’t have Japanese translation, rendering them useless if they don’t have translator assistance at the voting center.

Without advocating for and registering Japanese speaking voters, there is a risk that Japanese voting materials will no longer be provided. “It’s really important for people to register in their language, especially Japanese, because it’s one of the threshold languages. If we don’t say anything, or get people registered, then the county will assume that there’s not enough Japanese speaking people to create in language materials,” said Yasue.

Helping people vote and advocating for Japanese voting materials is not the only way Yasue uses her expertise of both English and Japanese to empower community members.  When Metro conducted focus groups to find out what the community needed, she helped Japanese speakers voice their opinions and concerns. Thanks to Yasue, Metro now has feedback from the Japanese speaking seniors, as they look to improve their existing and upcoming transit operations.

With the support of translators like Yasue, LTSC is able to empower non-English speakers, creating more inclusive and equitable communities.

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