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New translation tool helps families and staff

Instant language assistant

Our levy dollars in action: There’s a new translation tool at schools in the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District that’s making a remarkable difference for non-English speaking families and staff. 

Called Instant Language Assistants, or ILAs, these tools allow for immediate simultaneous translation either in person or on the phone. The size of a tablet, these devices can be found in the main office of every school. 

“This is going to be great for families who come in and do not speak English. We can translate automatically for them,” said Donald Eismann Elementary Administrative Secretary Becky Purser.

Here’s how they work: A user can choose from more than 100 different languages to speak into the ILA. The ILA will translate what they say in English to office staff on the other side, both written and verbally. 

ILAs don’t replace the use of human interpreters – in-person interpreters are also available at the request of SBLSD staff, but ILAs are an on-the-spot helpful resource for staff and families. 

Instant language assistant

“We do have other options, but this is something that’s available immediately and is great for in person, as well as on the phone,” Purser said. “It helps us to give the best service that we can.” 

A total of 50 ILAs were purchased with technology levy funds and were distributed across SBLSD, including one for the main office of every school. 

ILAs can also help with other parent and staff interactions. 

At Elhi Hill High School Program, the ILA has already improved communication with some families. Ana Lilia, parent of a student at Elhi Hill, appreciated using the ILA during her parent-teacher conference. 

“I think it’s good,” she said through the ILA. “I can communicate much better. I hope we can continue communicating in this way.” 

The ILAs were funded through a six-year 2018 technology levy, which is up for renewal in February 2024. Thank you, voters!