latino lingo

All things related to effective Hispanic marketing, Hispanic advertising and Hispanic public relations.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I no ezpeek eengleesh in Hernando County

If you're Latino who speaks Spanish and has a medical condition, I recommend you don't move to Hernando County, Florida.

Last night, the county commissioners indefinitely put of approving a Spanish version of its Health and Human Services Department web site, according to an article in today's St. Petersburg Times.

"We are all immigrants of this nation, but we are an English-speaking country," Commissioner Jeff Stabins is quoted as saying.

Yes, Jeff, you are right. And I, too, advocate we all learn English. My mom hired us a tutor when I was a kid and that, in addition to my personal drive, helped get me out of bi-lingual education by the third grade. And I was dropped on my head a lot as a kid my mom tells me; so, there is no reason we all can't learn English if we try.

The reality, however, is new immigrants don't come here already mastering the Queen's English but they do often come here with medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease. In addition, as Hispanics, we are pre-disposed to certain medical conditions at higher rates than Whites. Add that the growing numbers of Hispanics, and the current disparity in access to quality healthcare, which I've written about in several posts, and there is a real case for serving Hispanics in their native language when it comes to health care information and services.

While I commend the proponents of the web site for trying to take an active first step, the proposed solution of running a translation on the Web site is not one I would advocate since translations alone will not resonate with Hispanics. There are other factors besides language that we must address in our health communication to Hispanics. If they really want to serve their community, as they intend, the county should do so in a culturally relevant manner as well. The county should also elect commissioners who understand the changing nature of their constituency.

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