While Brandi Young-Sharp was completing her psychology degree at The Ohio State University, she worked as a bilingual paralegal. During that time, she helped Spanish speakers understand their rights in regard to workers’ compensation.
She also created and conducted workshops and classes to help employees and other interpreters gain more knowledge about workers’ compensation, employment law, and discrimination.
“It was from all these professional experiences that I came to realize the need for quality interpreting and translation services that bridge the language gap between the international and business communities,” says Young-Sharp.
She founded Advanced Language Access, a a language interpreting and translation consultancy, in 2008. Now, three years later, the company is expanding and has relocated to a larger office in Columbus’s Brewery District.
To learn how Young-Sharp is diversifying the company’s offerings, why she thinks Columbus will become a bigger player in the global workforce, and what kinds of cross cultural training your business can receive, keep reading.
The Metropreneur: What inspired you to start Advanced Language Access?
Brandi Young-Sharp: The simple answer: my grandmother. And now for the long answer…
Ever since I was about six years old, my mother worked several jobs −most times simultaneously− and she also had to be both mother and father. Frequently, my grandmother would step in since she lived with us following a severe workplace injury.
Because of she spoke limited English, she was unable to express not only the pain she endured from her previous injury, but also the injustices she faced because of the language barrier. At times, she would call me out of school to attend doctor’s appointments to interpret or translate her workers’ compensation paper work. At a very early age, I became my grandmother’s interpreter.
I quickly realized there were lots of other people in our community that need help from an interpreter. I began to assist neighbors in helping them read their mail and navigate social service paperwork and policies.
My grandmother both motivated me and obligated me to keep my heritage language. She also instilled in me a sense of community that compels me to create ways to make a person’s heritage language available if that is their need.
[M]: You plan to add employees in 2012. How many and what will they be handling?
BYS: I plan to add four or five employees and they would all operate as Language Program Mangers. They will be responsible for the background research on emerging new languages in the Central Ohio region. Also, they would research and train new language interpreters.
[M]: You say the demand for language interpreting and translation services has grown in Central Ohio. What’s behind that increased demand?
BYS: I believe there are several reasons. First, Columbus, Ohio is an attractive place to live for a global workforce and as we become even more metropolitan, more people want to live here. Also, Columbus continues to attract and retain young professionals, as well as international professionals because there are abundant resources here. And because people are coming here for higher education, as well as business purposes, Advanced Language Access continues to grow and thrive. In this regard, we have seen an increase in the translation of patent documents, adoption papers, transcripts, and birth records.
[M]: In addition to language interpreting and translation services, Advanced Language Access offers cross cultural training for business owners. What does that entail?
BYS: Cross cultural training for business owners can be customized to suit their particular needs. Previous client presentations have covered industry specific topics such as cultural competency, diversity awareness, global business operations, international etiquette, and understanding emerging demographics, as well as multi-cultural internal and external customer service.
[M]: Advanced Language Access also trains interpreters and translators themselves. What does that training include?
BYS: Advanced language Access does not certify interpreters and translators. However, we do provide the necessary tools and instruction for interpreters to be prepared to take the Ohio Supreme Court certification exam. We provide classroom instruction on the interpreters code of conduct and ethics, relevant vocabulary and terminology, cultural competency, and the language industry for business.
[M]: Advanced Language Access has moved to new offices at 503 S. High St. You must be excited about the new space.
BYS: I’m excited because we can now offer expanded services. I am already working on the 2012 event schedule to include training for multi-lingual business owners, one-on-one tutoring and small group sessions for English as a Second Language. Also, we are looking to add seminars and workshops that identify the unique multi-lingual business needs of industries like insurance, banking, marketing, and −always my first professional workplace− the law.
[M]: When people think of global companies, they often think of big corporations, not small businesses based in Central Ohio. Do you think Advanced Language Access plays a part in debunking that myth?
BYS: There are language barriers for organizations of any size that knows there are potential clients or customers throughout the globe. Additionally, with technology like Skype, Facebook, and Google and the like, you really can be a small business in Columbus, Ohio and make an impact in the world economy.
Technology as simple as email makes it possible to be a global business. Language consultants can interact with people on the ground in a given country more quickly and in environmentally friendly ways.
To learn more about Advanced Language Access, visit AdvancedLanguageAccess.com.