Due to rapid growth of the Hispanic population in the county, the board has decided to implement a plan that may translate signs at key government buildings. Alex Asbun, director of El Centro Latino, said the population shift has made translated signs necessary.
"We realize the need of translating when Latinos come asking questions because they don't know how to access government buildings," Asbun said.
Data from the 2000 U.S. Census show that the Hispanic/Latino community has increased from 1,275 to 5,273 since 1990, now making up 4.5 percent of Orange County's total population.
Since June 2000, an Orange County Risk Management team has been compiling information in hopes of accommodating Hispanic citizens.
County Commissioner Barry Jacobs said the board has decided to begin with universal signage such as a bathroom sign depicting male and female characters and few words.
Translated signs could include rest room, safety, directional, department name, and internal department signs. Other possibilities are safety signs saying, "No Smoking" and "No weapons" in both English and Spanish.
Initially, the pilot project will replace temporary signs at the Register of Deeds Office with permanent signs.
After judging citizen response, the board will then make decisions about the continuance of the project.
Three phases have been discussed for the complete project, but the board will wait for results from the test run before refinements are made, said Greg Wilder, assistant to the county manager.