Visitors to Miami may notice something they’re not used to on their way in to their hotels, but only if they listen carefully. It’s not quiet, but it’s not something most pay attention to intentionally: a bus announcement. In the Miami-Dade Transit system, announcements are made in English, Spanish and Haitian Kreyol.
The latter, Haitian Kreyol, may sound like French, but years after Toussaint L’Ouverture’s revolution routed the European nation, it has remained a language all its own.
According to Indiana University’s Professor Valdman, “[m]ore than 90 percent of the vocabulary of Creole is of French origin, yet French people can’t understand Creole.” The recognition of Kreyol as its own, essentially distinct language means accommodations for the large Haitian population in Miami are necessary.
Miami-Dade County’s incorporation of Kreyol alongside Spanish and English is part of both legal requirements and an effort at being responsive to the community.
“For public meetings and other legally-required items, we follow the Title VI requirements,” said Karla Damian, Media and Public Relations Officer for the Department of Transportation and Public Works at Miami-Dade County. “But we also do this as a service to our multicultural, multilingual community.”
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance,” according to the Department of Justice.
Having a robust program of outreach to diverse communities allows MDT to meet riders where they’re at.
“We can reach a wider audience who may be limited in their English proficiency,” said Damian. “They also appreciate the fact that the messages are multicultural and multi-language.”
MDT even brings in Abuela to give tips to riders, as in the below video, subtitled in Kreyol:
Efforts by MDT to provide information to the public are robust, but there are still areas that Damian sees for improvement.
“We continue to look for ways to improve the delivery of our messages, such as doing multi-language social media posts. We are limited in staff availability, so it is not as often that we can put out multi-language messages on social media,” said Damian.
An example of this kind of outreach is service adjustment announcements.
Most service adjustment announcements in Kreyol are available on the main MDT website and the agency’s Facebook page. Meanwhile, other information, like crime announcements and announcements relating to music events are not translated.
Regardless, MDT and the Miami-Dade government’s efforts at outreach have been well-received by commuters.
“The community is very receptive to our multi-language campaigns and appreciative of the information in multiple languages,” said Damian.