PORTLAND, Ore. -- Six West Coast government agencies are going multilingual.

The Washington County Juvenile Department; Oregon Employment Department and Department of Education; Oregon Health & Science University; California EPA; and Portland Public Schools will use an online translation service to foster better communication with the people they serve.

The service will combine the efficiencies of online submission with the accuracy of human translation for documents such as policy updates, public announcements, student assessments and general correspondence. Projects are submitted through a secure Web interface and routed automatically to translators who specialize in specific languages and/or document styles.

"As Portland becomes increasingly international, there is a growing need for multilingual communication," said Jim Scherzinger, superintendent of Portland Public Schools.

Of the U.S. population over five years of age, 17.9 percent of those surveyed during the U.S. Census Bureau 2000 Census speak a language other than English at home. The percentage increased nearly 50 percent from 1990.

"As our population continues to diversify, the impact is being felt most by the local, state and federal agencies that provide the infrastructure of our communities," said Chanin Ballance, CEO of viaLanguage, the company the agencies have contracted with to provide the online service.

-- viaLanguage