The City of San Antonio on Thursday launched a website en español.
The new Spanish-language site offers information on City services Spanish-speaking residents search for the most, according to City spokesman Carlos Valenzuela. Users can now find information on how to locate a lost pet, register for a parks and recreation program, sign up for Citizens To Be Heard, and contact a City Council member in Spanish.
Of the 1.4 million people living in the San Antonio metropolitan area, 63 percent are Latino and 36.2 percent speak Spanish.
“Having a webpage specifically for our Spanish-speaking community is crucial for this compassionate city,” Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) said in a prepared statement. “This page is a perfect complement to the Spanish translation and interpretation services contracts included in the past three City budgets.”
The City’s website, SanAntonio.gov, used to rely solely on a Google plugin to translate information into Spanish. But because Google translates word for word, the original meaning is often lost, Valenzuela said.
“We found that, [in] playing with that tool and hearing from the community, that it’s not always accurate,” he said. “What it does is translate the page and give you an understanding of what’s being said. But not everything is correctly translated, because it translates literally.”
The website does have an advisory notice informing users that some City webpages are only available in English. Those pages will still have a Google translate option, but may not be accurately translated.
The City prioritized translation of certain department pages based on the City’s analysis of browsing data, Valenzuela explained. So far, only the pages of the San Antonio International Airport, Animal Care Services, Parks and Recreation, Solid Waste Management, and City Council have been translated into Spanish. And not all of it was translated – just the information Spanish speakers searched for the most, Valenzuela said. The City will continue to translate pages as need and demand rises, he added.
“For example, if you go to [the] airport [page], it’s a description of the airport, but we also found that Spanish speakers were looking for arrivals and departures and where to park,” he said. “They were looking for that information, so we provided that information.”
Television broadcasts of City Council meetings also now offer a Spanish option when viewers enable second audio programming, and online livestreams will have a Spanish audio option, too. City Council agenda are already offered in Spanish.
“We’ve stepped up our efforts in the past couple of years to address language barriers and increase civic participation among all residents,” City Manager Sheryl Sculley said in a news release Thursday.
The City will also air Spanish-language programming, such as reruns of City Council meetings, on TVSA Friday mornings starting at 8 a.m. and Saturday evenings starting at 5 p.m.