Over 160 world language advocates gathered in Washington, DC on February 14–15 to meet with members of Congress for Language Advocacy Day. This annual summit of administrators, business owners, educators, and language industry leaders is organized by the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL), the authority on language policy in Washington, DC. Every year, ATA lends its voice as one of the advocates from the language professions to meet with Congress and request legislation and funding in support of language education and industry priorities. In addition to numerous language educators, several translator and interpreter sister organizations participate in the event.
As ATA’s representative, I was honored to join world language educators PreK–12, researchers, analysts, translators, interpreters, business owners, and other representatives of leading language associations from over 40 states to advocate for America’s language enterprise. A great addition this year were two ATA members who “got the advocacy bug” in 2017, when ATA and JNCL sponsored a Translation and Interpreting Advocacy Day prior to ATA’s 58th Annual Conference in Washington, DC.1
While the focus of legislative requests this year was on budget appropriations, discussions and materials provided to congressional staffers brought translation and interpreting services front and center. Delegates could relate language proficiency to international relations, social justice, economic growth, and national security. ATA’s expertise in the business and government aspects of the language industry are helping cement our place with congressional offices looking to support languages and the vital role they play in the U.S.
I would encourage all ATA members and supporters to sign up to receive policy alerts from JNCL (https://languagepolicy.org). These contain specific actions and templates/scripts you can use to make advocacy easy. Follow #LanguageMatters and @JNCLinfo on Twitter for opportunities to amplify others’ messages. The current political climate means we have a stellar opportunity to make meaningful changes happen for the benefit of all.
- “Stepping Out on Capitol Hill: ATA’s First Advocacy Day in Washington, DC,” The ATA Chronicle (January–February 2018), http://bit.ly/ATA-advocacy
Caitilin Walsh is a past president of ATA (2013–2015). She currently serves as chair of ATA’s Education and Pedagogy Committee. She also serves on the executive committee of the Joint National Committee for Languages. An ATA-certified French>English translator, she produces translations for the computer industry and food lovers alike. She is a graduate of Willamette University (Oregon) and the Université de Strasbourg (France). She teaches ethics and business practices at the Translation and Interpreting Institute at Bellevue College. She is a member of the Translation and Interpreting Advisory Committee for the Puget Sound Skills Center. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or @CaitilinWalsh on Twitter.