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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Carol G. Velandia P. of Equal Access Language Services on the Daunting Reality of Communication Barriers

Last updated Monday, July 8, 2024 12:20 ET , Source: Equal Access Language Services

Carol G. Velandia P., the founder of Equal Access Language Services, shares her insights on the nationwide language-based discrimination the LEP population faces.

Baltimore, Maryland, 07/08/2024 / SubmitMyPR /

What is clear communication? To Carol G. Velandia P., the founder of Equal Access Language Services (EALS), this term is defined as everyone being able to understand other people’s ideas and express their own. Especially for US immigrants, clear communication is imperative, as its impact transcends sheer language barriers, bleeding into cultural differences and the nuanced territory of systemic comprehension, including the medical, legal, and schooling landscapes.

Carol G. Velandia P., founder of Equal Access Language Services

Carol - a Colombian American living in the US and a seasoned language access advocate specializing in negotiation and conflict resolution with years of experience in the language inclusivity field - founded EALS as a response to an evident nationwide void—though nearly 25 million Limited English Proficient (LEP) people live in the US, they are discriminated on the basis of national origin, experiencing poorer outcomes in public services, than english speakers.

As she emphasizes, central to clear communication is the concept of communicative autonomy. “Communicative autonomy means that everyone has the power to use their voice to communicate a message while being understood,” she adds. For that reason, Carol highlights the importance of professional interpreters who, equipped with comprehensive expertise, help LEP people convey and understand messages accurately without infusing words with their own bias.

Contributing to the issue is the lack of understanding of language rights and language access legislation. As Carol says, these difficulties hinder one’s life in multiple ways, from making it impossible to understand directions, manuals, and crucial announcements to being seriously harmed, or even having one's freedom stripped away. “Without adequate understanding and enforcement of the laws and comprehensive strategies and solutions, society will be at a standstill, neglecting the needs of a significant part of the population,” she stresses.

Addressing the common misconception that LEP people struggle due to their own lack of motivation to learn a language, Carol alludes to a personal experience when she traveled to India: “I remember being very humbled when I realized how difficult it was to learn the local language Malayalam. I learned English as an adult and always considered myself linguistically gifted. After months of trying, I could only say everyday phrases and form simple sentences in broken grammar, I understood that learning a new language is more difficult than some people think.”

For Carol, encouraging the LEP population to learn English instead of promoting language-inclusive initiatives obstructs not only the future but also dishonors the initial principles of the US. As she says, when the founding fathers created the nation, they were dedicated to fostering a multilingual environment for everyone to thrive, commanding multiple languages, including English, French, Dutch, German, and Spanish. Though the US is now perceived as a largely monolingual society, the US is one of the most linguistically diverse countries, it's also the country where languages come to die, Carol is dedicated to supporting a diverse and inclusive America.

While systemic barriers carry the most impact, challenging LEP people in legal, medical, and schooling contexts, they also affect one’s sense of confidence, increase the harrowing feeling of alienation, and disrupt one’s mental health. “When people don’t understand you, they treat you differently,” she illuminates, recounting a real-life example. “I have witnessed this type of discrimination many times. Once, I saw an LEP person walk up to a self-help desk in court, write their name down, and wait in line. They were the next ones to go. Despite that, the clerk called in all English speakers, blatantly admitting to leaving the LEP customer til last.”

According to Carol, a profound understanding of the LEP population’s struggles is possible only through feeling the challenges they experience on one’s own skin. To raise awareness about the impact of discrimination, Carol, during her all-encompassing business workshops, utilizes a public service announcement, created by Fluency, showcasing an English-speaking person facing the language barrier. That impactful announcement significantly shifts the narratives, helping executives understand the struggles of the LEP population and adjust their strategies accordingly.

Carol G. Velandia P. has been changing the current understanding of language-based discrimination landscape since 2013, with her video ‘Saving Lives in Many Languages’, raising awareness and implementing inclusive strategies that fostered into her Equal Access Language Services offering. From effective workshops to public speaking, she is able to shift the outdated perception toward a more inclusive future.

“After all, it all circles back to preventing all sorts of discrimination, it is as bad to discriminate a deaf person than it is to discriminate against a limited LEP person” she shares. “If you treat everyone with the same dignity, society will become a better place. The US is an inherently vibrant place, and we need to pay more attention to the LEP people suffering in the current systems. Language has the power to equalize and unite, and it is our job to turn that vision into reality.”

Carol G. Velandia P., founder of Equal Access Language Services



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