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Comment regarding ALAC operating language

  • To: alac-review@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Comment regarding ALAC operating language
  • From: Alan Greenberg <alan.greenberg@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 27 Apr 2009 23:32:13 -0400

I am submitting this comment on behalf of myself (ALAC member for North America appointed by the NomCom ALAC), Sébastien Bachollet (ALAC member for Europe elected by the EURALO) and Vanda Scartezini (ALAC member for Latin America / Caribbean appointed by the NomCom ALAC).

We strongly support the report's recommendations for enhanced translation and interpretation. Such services are essential for all non-English speaking people to both understand ICANN and ICANN issues, and to participate in ICANN processes. Reducing the "English barrier" is crucial to ICANN's success and ICANN's credibility throughout the world.

However, for members of the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC), this is not sufficient. ALAC is an integral part of the ICANN community and to be effective, it must be able to access the wealth of documents that are produced, and participate in joint activities with the Supporting Organizations, other Advisory Committees and the Board. Virtually all of these use English as their sole working language, with occasional document translation after-the-fact.

If an ALAC member is not comfortable in spoken English and in reading and writing ICANN English documents and e-mail, they cannot function fully as an ALAC member. That to varying degrees disenfranchises those who put them on the ALAC (their RALO or the community in general through the NomCom). Moreover, it means that they cannot take their share of responsibilities, increasing the load on the remaining ALAC members.

We urge the ALAC Review Working Group to take a stand on this, and to recommend that ALAC members be functionally comfortable and capable in spoken and written English until such time that the rest of ICANN can function, both effectively and in a timely manner, in other languages in all of its activities.

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