According to census data, nearly 30 percent of British Columbians have a Mother Tongue other than English and nearly 17 percent speak a language other than English at home. For many of these residents, it’s now easier to handle driver licensing transactions as ICBC is now offering language assistance in more than 170 languages at all of its licensing locations.
The initiative – provided by Language Line Services – is an on-demand, over-the-telephone translation service that will be rolled out to all 20 of ICBC’s driver licensing offices by fall 2012. All interpreters are trained in licensing terminology and, on average, it only takes a few seconds to be connected to an interpreter.
ICBC had introduced that translation service in 2010 through its claim centres and through its Dial-a-Claim service. In 2011, more than 15,850 calls used the language assistance service.
The most in-demand languages were Mandarin (approximately 4,800 calls), Cantonese (approximately 4,200 calls), Punjabi (approximately 3,000 calls) and Korean (approximately 1,800 calls). Other commonly requested languages include Vietnamese, Farsi, Spanish and Japanese. The expansion of the translation service to all ICBC driver licensing offices follows a successful pilot at licensing offices in Abbotsford, Burnaby, Point Grey, Richmond, Surrey and Vancouver East.
“The feedback from customers on this translation service has been extremely positive,” said Fred Hess, ICBC’s Vice President of Driver Licensing, in a statement. “Our customers tell us it’s helped make what can be a complicated process understandable, improving their overall experience with us.
“The province values and celebrates cultural diversity, and this service ensures that British Columbians can have the confidence to speak to an ICBC representative in their language of choice,” said Finance Minister Kevin Falcon. “With an increasingly diverse population, more and more companies are realizing that multi-language services are a necessity in meeting the cultural and linguistic needs of B.C.’s diverse marketplace.”
“We know that many newcomers to B.C. find the process of getting a driver license to be different from what they’re used to, which can naturally create confusion and anxiety,” said Hess. “This free service creates a more comfortable environment that allows customers to speak with our staff and ask questions in the language of their choice.”
“We know that B.C. is a culturally diverse province and we want our customers to know that no matter what language they speak, we speak it too,” said Hess.
Last year, ICBC translated parts of its website and related services into Chinese and Punjabi.