Annual OCDE conference to promote language access for all

The annual Interpreters and Translators Conference is returning this month, featuring three days of educational sessions to advocate for language access throughout the K-12 system.

The sixth seminar of its kind  — themed, “Language Access for ALL! Educational Leaders, Interpreters, Translators: We are Stronger Together” — was organized by the Educational Services division at the Orange County Department of Education. Each session will focus on one of the following topics: skill development, self-care, ethics, cultural considerations, professionalism, translation and branding.

Attendees can tune into 18 different sessions on professional learning and engagement — including two virtual and one in-person/hybrid. Virtual sessions will be held from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the first two days of the conference, with the final day of sessions held in person from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This will be the first hybrid event after holding two virtual conferences during the pandemic. Despite missing the face-to-face connection, Language Services Program Specialist Natalia Abarca said her team was able to expand their audience through this format.

“The virtual platform gave us the opportunity to explore and open our doors to the virtual world,” Abarca said. “Without knowing it, it became an international conference, because we have people coming from all over the United States and from other countries as well.”

With this year’s meeting, the Language Services unit is working to develop a language access plan for the entire county, including a uniform template or set of guidelines for district and school leaders to follow. Organizers say that will help ensure equitable language access for students and families — a top priority for OCDE staff.

2022 Interpreters and Translators Conference Flyer

The conference will kick off with keynote speaker Dr. Jennifer Love, a language access consultant for Equitable Engagement Solutions, LLC, and her presentation on incorporating language access into the educational ecosystem.

Abarca, the event’s founder, said that through this conference, her team has been able to “provide a venue and a place where bilingual staff can find resources and trainings” while they learn new strategies and tips to fully utilize translation and interpretation services.

Among the presenters is OCDE Chief Academic Officer Dr. Christine Olmstead, who will host the “Removing Barriers, Opening Opportunities” session on Sept. 24. She will also be featured as part of an administrator’s panel that will discuss “Setting up the Foundation for Language Access Communities and Aligning District Practices” on Sept. 23.

The event will include other Orange County administrators such as Anaheim Union High School District’s Director of Plurilingual Services Dr. Renae Bryant and Buena Park School District Superintendent Dr. Ramon Miramontes, making up 29 guest speakers in total.

In accordance with this year’s theme, the program will focus on fostering meaningful collaborations between administrators, interpreters and translators within educational systems.

“Those are our heroes, our leaders, the people that have really given us tremendous support and they have a huge impact in the growth of our conference,” Abarca said.

In addition to hosting the annual symposium, the OCDE Language Services unit manages a multilingual consortium for all Orange County districts, charter schools and learning centers to come together for language supports. The team also provides a list of resources for high quality translation and interpretation services along with online trainings and updated terminology.

Attendees at the 2019 Interpreters and Translators Conference
Attendees at the 2019 Interpreters and Translators Conference.

With the conference being one of the first of its kind in the nation, Abarca and her colleagues like to consider themselves the pioneers of this service for interpreters and translators who specialize in education.

Educators, interpreters and translators can save their spots for the 2022 Interpreters and Translators Conference by visiting the official conference site. Registration for the event will be $150 per person and will include access to all virtual sessions, the keynote address, breakout sessions and in-person conference activities at OCDE.

For questions about the conference, contact Natalia Abarca at nabarca@ocde.us or Jorge Ibarra at jibarra@ocde.us. For help with registration, contact Brianna Gomez at EventsandPartnerships@ocde.us.

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