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Steele County Historical Society to offer free translators

The Steele County Historical Society is introducing translation devices to help make the museum more accessible.
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 5:33 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2022 at 7:38 PM CST
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OWATONNA, Minn. (KEYC) - In an attempt to make history more accessible, the Steele County Historical Society in Owatonna is making translation devices available to the public.

”I’m one of those people that think that museums should be for everybody, regardless of what language you speak, where you come from, there should be no barriers,” Steele County Historical Society Executive Director Kellen Hinrichsen said.

The devices come from a grant from the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

They translate text and speech in over 80 languages and will be available free of charge upon request once the upcoming exhibit opens on Jan. 29.

We just received some of our newest tech here at the History Center and are quite excited for it! In the coming years, we will be working to make the History Center and all locations that are a part of the SCHS more inclusive to the community. The first step in this is providing basic translation services at the History Center. These new devices allow us to quickly translate both speech and written text into more than 80 languages, allowing us to better communicate with all guests from the community! These translators will be available for use by our guests at no charge. This is just the beginning as we soon will be working to provide translated audio versions of our guided tours to guests as well. We hope that the Steele County community is as excited as we are for these new plans here at the SCHS! A special thanks goes out to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research for providing a grant to the SCHS to fully cover the cost of the devices. #Inclusive #Translation #Community #Museums #History #SupportLocal #Language

Posted by Steele County Historical Society on Monday, January 3, 2022

“Just in the school districts alone, there are about 850 students here, whose families, who, English is not their first language spoken at home. So there is a significant amount of the population who might not speak English or might not be comfortable speaking English. And so I wanted to kind of bridge that gap and provide a mechanism to allow them to come in and feel comfortable at the Steele County Historical Society, and still be open to be able to learn here,” Hinrichsen explained.

The device also has a camera function that translates signs and text into the selected language, making the museum completely accessible to visitors.

The museum said that there is a wider plan to make the museum more accessible, and the translation devices are only the first step.

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