This is a story from the corporate corner. A story of Translators Without Borders.
The beginning of TWB…
“Here’s a news flash: communicating in the wrong language is not communicating at all. Humanitarian groups not getting that simple fact is the main reason I founded the translation charity Translators without Borders. Yet the same ignorance about how important language is also bedevils anyone who earns a living in the translation industry.” READ MORE
By Lori Thicke, founder of Translators without Borders
world humanitarian summit, Istanbul, Turkey 23 – 24 May 2016
Last week I had the good fortune of attending the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, the first convening of its kind. Beyond the lovely – and slightly extravagant – opening ceremony, there was real work to be done at the summit. With the mantra, “Leave No One Behind” and the hashtag, #ShareHumanity, the ‘powers that be’ attempted to shift the conversation – and the mindset – within the humanitarian aid community to community engagement and local empowerment. A few significant commitments were made, especially the Grand Bargain target of 25 percent of international funds going to local NGOs by 2020, and initiatives launched, such as the Network for Empowered Aid Response.
Yet session after session, I waited to hear the specific commitments from UN agencies and major NGOs. They were not forthcoming. There were declarations that individual voices matter, that partnerships with local actors are important, and that we just must do something about the migration crisis. These were sound bites, written and spoken without passion. But actual financial or program commitments on a broad scale were sadly lacking.
But does it even matter?
I left feeling relieved that I didn’t fall asleep in the special sessions, but energized by the activities and voices that I heard in other settings throughout the venue. The shift in funding to local and national NGOs and enterprises, coupled with exciting innovations and the involvement of for-profit socially minded companies, will necessarily change the focus to local solutions, with or without the international humanitarian leaders. Whether they survive the shift will be up to them. I was particularly excited by three trends that permeated the summit:
Small enterprises with big ideas.
Throughout the summit’s Innovation Marketplace and wandering the halls, were many entrepreneurs who are figuring out ways to either assist international agencies with the shift to local or simply bypass them; it is a shame that the diplomats and agency directors who walked through the Marketplace to get to the Facebook Live booth did not glance at the cool innovations as they passed. HumanSurge, for example, allows professionals in surge capacity to manage their own careers and their own deployments, opening many more opportunities for employment. The creators of MedBox focus on truly open health content that can be shared by anyone, anywhere, not unlike our local language Words of Relief Repository. Our fellow CDAC-Network member, Ground Truth Solutions, told the special session on People at the Centre that communicating with communities is not just about listening, but acting on what we hear – and listening again.
While the leaders may be slow to commit to change, at the field level the shift is clear. In our advocacy for more local language content, we often hit roadblocks at country or international levels. There is a presumption that translation is not that important, or that bi-lingual staff can do it just fine. But field staff really understand the need and are committed to local language as a tool to communicate better with and listen to communities. Those who came by our booth at the summit were thrilled that this issue is getting more attention. Importantly, more and more, field staff in places like Kenya, Guinea and Greece are forcing changes higher up the chain. There are also promising pockets of change within headquarters staff, such as the exciting work being done by UNHCR Innovation’s Emergency Lab, and the ICRC’s team committed to communicating with communities. While commitments on an international level were sparse, individuals throughout the summit were committing to the paradigm shift, and that mindset will seep through the sector over time.
Sustainable funding models.
Probably the most exciting conversations I had at the World Humanitarian Summit were those with like-minded organizations focused on non-traditional funding models. It is critical that we look beyond grant cycles to fund important initiatives and innovations that improve overall response. Many members of the humanitarian-to-humanitarian (H2H) initiative launched by ACAPS, of which we are a member, are considering service funding models as a way to build infrastructure and hire staff that fit the needs of the organization, not just the latest grant proposal. It was encouraging to get many nods of support for our new service funding approach from a wide range of large non-profits and agencies. While institutional funding will continue to be important for organizations like ours, sustainable long-term funding modeled after tech start-ups (and encouraged by such innovative funders as the Humanitarian Innovation Fund), will increase innovations designed specifically to meet humanitarian needs, encourage competition to sort out the best ideas, and allow professionalization of small enterprises and non-profit organizations on the local, national and international level.
A momentum for change
Over three years of consultations leading up to the summit, there were many questions as to whether any of it would matter, whether the UN and the sector could actually change to improve humanitarian response. But as those questions were being asked, change was happening all around us. There is momentum for change on local and even international levels. How it will shake out, and who will be the major players in ten years, is unknown, but I’m optimistic that response will be improved, with or without today’s leaders.
Read more about the World Humanitarian Summit here.
By Rebecca Petras, Translators without Borders Deputy Director and Head of Innovation
Leave no one behind and localization are big picture ideas that are being widely-discussed at the World Humanitarian Summit next week in Istanbul.
But, what does it really mean to leave no one – not one single person – behind?
As the head of an organization that began and remains firmly based in the localization industry, I’d like to add my voice to the conversation –it’s a conversation vital to everything we do as humanitarians.
I’ve been thinking about what humanitarians can learn from the corporate sector in terms of localization. When I say “humanitarians”, I mean local, national, international NGOs, UN agencies, etc.
Why do companies localize? What do they know that we (humanitarians) don’t? The localization industry is expected to be worth $37 billion by 2018. Obviously, localization matters to corporations.
Here is what they know:
People remember and respond better to what they learn in their native language.
According to Robert Lane Greene of The Economist, research demonstrates that when people read something in a language they understand, they can comprehend it. If they read something in their mother tongue, they are more apt to believe it to be true.
Simplify, simplify, simplify. Simple messages in native languages work. Content can’t be translated well if it doesn’t make sense in the original language.
Go to the customer. Go to the places where people get information. Localize what you find and create what is missing.
Provide people with knowledge and information, not instructions. Let people decide how to use the knowledge.
Ensure efficient processes. Use technology to speed up (but not substitute for) localization.
We humanitarians know this. But why do companies localize, but we in the humanitarian world don’t?
Same, same, but different
In the corporate translation/content world, localization is about how to make information accessible to customers. For humanitarians, localization is about putting affected people at the center of the humanitarian response.
Maybe it’s the same thing? Doesn’t “leaving no one behind” mean making our “products” accessible to people affected by crises, our customers? Doesn’t putting people at the center of the response mean that they decide which products best suit their needs?
Why are we behind in our participation?
We’ve all heard the excuses:
Translation is too expensive; we don’t have the budgets companies have.
Translation takes too long and people will die.
We don’t have translators on staff, and those we do have focus on the languages that our donors speak, not those languages that affected people speak.
Just give them cash and let them work out what they need. People can make their own decisions.
Let’s address these.
Translation is too expensive
It IS expensive to translate a lot of content. Fortunately, we already have the lessons that the private sector has learned and the tools they’ve developed. We need to:
Decide what is crucial information (not huge tomes)
Ensure that the content is good (for example, not UN or NGO-speak)
Find qualified professional translators (bad translations can kill)
Use translation tools wisely
Make the process efficient
These things cut costs and force us to prioritize.
Translation takes too long and people will die.
Or they will die because they don’t get the right information at the right time in the right way? In my four months at TWB, I’ve discovered that this is really not as hard as we think. TWB currently releases information in Arabic, Farsi, and Greek in less than five hours. And with the social media penetration rates of many of the places we work, we provide the best information to people using high-quality translations, subtitles, or voice overs before most humanitarians can score their visas, flights, hotels and advances.
Localization works even better if there are trained community translators already in the country of need. In-country resources are low-cost and easily developed for all humanitarian and development workers.
As an aid community, we need to think differently. Think about how much you can do virtually, without getting on a plane. For example, TWB has no corporate HQ – our only office is a translation center in Nairobi. All of our staff and our 3,400 translators work remotely.
Just give them the cash.
I agree. Give them the cash. And ensure that those in need have access to
high-quality information that they understand so they know what’s available to best protect themselves and their families.
Localization is as much about improving the quality of assistance as it is about ensuring people can protect themselves and live with dignity. As an aid community, we can only meet our own rigorous standards if people get the information they need in a language they speak and in a format they can access.
With all the other commitments, let’s make sure we really do leave no one behind.
Still not convinced?
Translators without Borders has done a series of very simple comprehension studies. This will make you think:
197 people were asked questions about how Ebola is spread.
8% of the questions were answered correctly
About 100 of these people attended an English information session; the other 100 got the same information in a professionally-translated Swahili session
Both groups were given the same test at the end of the sessions
The group that received information in English got 16% of the questions correct
The ground that received info in Swahili got…
….Wait for it…
92% of the questions correct.
If we’re really serious about ‘leaving no one behind’, then every humanitarian organization should invest in ensuring that key information is already translated into languages where we know disasters will occur (or are occurring) by:
Train community translators and interpreters to listen and respond, alongside community groups.
Ask for translation support. There are tools to rapidly develop local translator networks or global virtual translation/interpreting teams.
Pre-translate questionnaires and make them available in various media. You can sub-title or dub videos or radio programs fairly easily into numerous languages and have them ready for deployment.
Make sure source content is simplified in advance. I shudder to think that we might have to ask translators to translate the CHS graphic. Simple language can be easily translated into languages that are not vocabulary-rich, without compromising the meaning.
It’s not difficult. It’s not expensive. It will improve our accountability. It will save lives.
Come visit TWB in the Innovation Marketplace at the WHS. We will be at booth #2.
Contributors: Val Swisher, Founder & CEO of Content Rules and Donna Parrish, Owner/President of MultiLingual Computing, Inc., publisher of the language industry magazine “MultiLingual” and Co-owner and President of Localization World, Ltd., inputted significantly to this piece. They are TWB Board Members.
By Aimee Ansari, Translators without Borders Executive Director
Here on Lesbos, I tend to disappoint people at first meeting, when they hear about the TWB translation support. My introductory conversations go something like this:
Me: “Hi, I’m Lali, Communications Manager for Translators without Borders’ European Refugee Response.”
Them: “Hi!” (very excited) “A translator! That’s great! We desperately need Arabic…”
Me: “No, I’m not a translator…”
Them: “But I thought you said you worked for…?” (perplexed)
Me: “I’m coordinating partnerships and communicating about our work…”
Them: “Oh.” (profoundly disappointed)
The immediate need of translation support
In this crisis response, everyone needs translation support – and needs it immediately. The demand for translation and interpretation is so urgent and so widespread that I’ve had that introductory conversation (or one very similar to it) with refugees, aid workers and volunteers alike. At registration centres, in meetings, outside tents, in cafes and on the beaches: I’ve disappointed people all over the island of Lesbos.
Spend a day (or an hour) working as part of any international humanitarian response, and you’ll understand the disappointment. There are obvious life-saving moments (understanding that someone needs a doctor, telling a child that the water is not safe to drink) when a common language is key. And then there are more complex situations (explaining rules and regulations, mediating between parties) which are extremely difficult even without a language barrier. All this is true of any humanitarian crisis.
But everyone working on the ground here agrees that communication needs during this, the European refugee crisis response, are special. What’s more, communication is central to this crisis response in a way that is entirely new to the international humanitarian community. I’d been told this, I’d read about this, but for me, it took actually seeing (and hearing) the crisis myself to understand why exactly this is the case. I’m still feeling out the dimensions of the enormous communication challenges we all face here and, as part of my role within TWB’s Words of Relief project, I’ll continue doing so. Right now though, to me, the challenges look something like this:
The refugee population is linguistically diverse
As an independent volunteer working at a clothing distribution point, I was trying to help a newly arrived Iraqi woman, shivering with cold, to find the clothes she needed. The woman was miming what looked to me to be a pair of trousers, so off I went to get trousers. Wrong. She tried again…now it looked like underwear. I went to get underwear. Wrong again. There was an Arabic interpreter nearby so I dragged him over to help, but he soon found out the woman didn’t speak Arabic. “She only speaks Kurdish,” he said.
This is not unusual: almost 80 percent of the refugees coming across the waters are Arabic or Farsi speaking. The Arabic speakers from Syria tend to be more educated with someone in their group able to communicate in English, whereas the Farsi (or Dari) speakers from Afghanistan often do not understand English at all. The other 20 percent of refugees do not speak or read in either of these languages. TWB has had requests from our partners for translation support in languages as various as Kurdish, Urdu, Dari, Pashto, Tigrinya and French. Time- consuming and disempowering interaction is all too common in this crisis because those working on the ground simply don’t have access to these languages.
Host community and refugee population don’t share a common language
A group of local volunteers express shyness in communicating with refugees; an NGO partner in Serbia finds it incredibly difficult to recruit local Arabic speakers; TWB can’t draw on the local community for interpretation and translation support; partners request the most basic traveller’s information for refugees (such as how to use an ATM). These and many other communication challenges arise from the unusual geography of this crisis: refugees do not typically speak the languages of the host communities they encounter on their route.
It is further testament to the enormously hospitable response of the Lesbos’ local population that they rarely understand the languages of the refugees they assist. But when it comes to more complex interactions, between government officials and refugees, for instance, language barriers can exacerbate or generate tensions. The fact that the many international volunteers and aid workers speak neither the language of the hosts nor the refugees, is another complicating factor.
TWB is currently working with partners to include communication with host communities in all their programmes. This means (on Lesbos, for example), that every sign, pamphlet or website disseminated in Arabic, Farsi or English, has a Greek translation. This should be replicated in Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia. We do this in the hope that equally informing communities leads to greater trust between them.
Refugees are mobile
Late one night, a man arrives at Moria registration centre soaked to the bone. It’s dark, cold and raining and we volunteers want to get him to the clothes distribution point urgently. He shakes his head: “No clothes, no clothes. Where do I register? How do I get to the port?” he asks. At that moment, getting the papers that will allow him to transit through Greece, and finding out how to get the ferry to Athens, are much more necessary than dry clothes, warmth or food. The urgent need to move on is typical of all refugees here. No one comes to Lesbos, or any other transit point, to stay.
The fact that refugees are on the move (and moving very fast in many cases) presents a major communication challenge. Unlike in other refugee crises where time is spent building trust and establishing routines at temporary resettlement sites, this crisis only allows for brief interactions with aid workers and fleeting opportunities to disseminate information. Then, with the next boatload of refugee arrivals, the information needs to be disseminated all over again. For this reason, high-quality concise translation and interpretation is even more crucial in this crisis to ensure refugees keep themselves and their families safe.
Refugees need constantly changing information
Most people know an anxious traveller. Maybe you are one yourself! Now just imagine that you actually have a reason to be seriously anxious (rather than just missing your train): you’re seeking asylum. On top of this, you’re in a country where you can’t read transport timetables, you’ve heard there’s a ferry strike but you’re not sure, you know that there are some countries who have closed their borders to people from your country, and you’ve heard there are people stranded in freezing temperatures further up the route. Oh and you have four children travelling with you. All is rumour, nothing is confirmed: now that’s anxious travelling.
Crisis-affected and displaced populations typically need information about health, shelter and emergency facilities. They also need information on their families and what is happening back home. In this crisis, information on travel (When is the next ferry? How much does it cost to take the bus? What is the weather forecast tomorrow?), or information on asylum procedures (Can I apply for asylum in Sweden? Can I register for a transit visa in Macedonia? Where should I say I’m heading on my registration paper?) is desperately needed by refugees. But this information is constantly changing – often by the minute. TWB is working closely with our partners to make sure information disseminated online and throughout humanitarian networks is rapidly translated so that refugees can make informed choices.
Fortunately, my conversations on Lesbos don’t end in disappointment. The immediate need for language skills that makes both me and the person I’m talking to wish I was indeed a translator, is only the most obvious manifestation of the communication challenges of this crisis. When I explain what Translators without Borders is doing to take the pressure off interpreters on the ground, to supply diverse language skills, to communicate with host communities, to produce professional, high-quality content, and provide rapid translation in a constantly changing environment – the disappointment invariably turns to comprehension and then, cooperation. In this crisis, the immediate demand will remain, but a more context-specific and sustainable response will best meet the communication challenges of a crisis that shows no sign of ending any time soon. And that’s how we provide the best possible translation support.
By Lali Foster, former Communications Manger for the European refugee crisis response
Thursday (November 7) night at the tcworld Conference this year was like none other for me. Normally a relaxing second moment in the middle of this particular conference, this time I had only one thing on my mind: an enormous typhoon was barreling toward the central Philippines, and Translators without Borders was being asked to activate a team to help deal with the chaos that was bound to ensue.
After dinner I worked through the night assembling our team, putting communications pieces in place, and keeping the vast and wide network of humanitarian aid responders with whom we partner apprised of our capabilities. Meanwhile, I watched as the typhoon made landfall and the area of greatest impact went dark. Mother Nature reminding us who is in charge: A circumstance that has become more familiar over the past four years but, fortunately, one that we are learning to address more quickly in an attempt to use language to save lives.
It was almost four years ago now since Haiti was ravaged by an earthquake. That crisis was a wake-up call for the translation industry—and, more importantly, the international aid organizations—regarding the vital role translation plays during such a crisis. The silver lining to that disaster was the growth of Translators without Borders, with a dedicated board and a committed advisory committee. We now handle more than 750,000 humanitarian words every month through the Translators without Borders Workspace (powered by Proz.com) and we have a vast network of translators ready to help out. This infrastructure was critical in setting up our response to last week’s typhoon. Tagalog (or Filipino) and English are the national languages of the Philippines. There are also eight major dialects; in central Philippines the most important being Waray and Cebuano. We were able to quickly assemble a team of Tagalog translators who could also handle the major dialects. A key factor was that the members of this team of dedicated volunteers were geographically dispersed, allowing us to offer assistance quickly at any time of the day.
With the team assembled, the real work began on Friday, November 8. The initial activation came from UN OCHA via the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN). As a member of DHN, we work with a wide array of committed aid response organizations that help the major responders to quickly put together a picture of the situation, often using micro-mapping and big data to assist. Social media is mined for this work, and our initial role in this activation was to handle the non-English Tweets and public Facebook messages. Additionally, we created a list of key terms – everything from ‘flood’ through ‘damaged’ and ‘injured’ to ‘dead’ – in Tagalog and Cebuano in order to help data miners sort through and prioritize the mountains of information being generated.
As the activation continued and responders on the ground gained a clearer picture of the devastation, we were called in by other partners to be ready to respond. One of our translators worked directly with Humanity Road, a DHN partner that educates the public before, during, and after a crisis. We are also a full member of the CDAC-Network (Communicating with Disaster-Affected Communities), which was created by major aid organizations, including UN OCHA, Save the Children, WorldVision, Internews, the International Federation of Red Cross, and Red Crescent Societies, to improve ‘Communications with Communities’ (or CwC). CwC is being recognized more and more as critical factor during a crisis. While it might seem obvious, it is not simple when all telecommunications are down, cell phone batteries die, and people speak an array of different languages. Through CDAC-N we are on call to assist with communications from aid workers to the affected populations as they work feverishly to get materials and information out. Finally, we are on call with UNHCR, which is the lead organization for refugees, to provide translations of more long term and longer format materials for refugees who will not have proper shelter for many months to come.
Throughout the process, our team of translators has been engaged and committed to help. Unlike many of the other responders to a crisis, Translators without Borders volunteers are intimately linked to the affected communities. In many cases, they have friends and family in the middle of the crisis. Language is the ultimate connector – and once our team members know their loved ones are safe, they use language to make a difference, helping responders save lives. In fact their knowledge of the community and the geographic region allows our team to be supportive in other ways as well, including giving CwC responders contacts in the local media and assessing the on-the-ground communications situation. I am so proud of our team of translators – they are making a difference every hour.
We are also documenting what we have learnt from this latest crisis to improve our own response to the next that will undoubtedly come, and to provide important input to our Words of Relief pilot project, due to kick off in Kenya next month. With that project, funded by the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, we will be testing the concept of a spider network of responders in regional and local languages as well as an interactive, collaborative and mobile translation system to engage people now living away from their homelands quickly and in a meaningful way. Stay tuned for much more on Words of Relief.
Finally, we could not do this without the support of our donors and sponsors. We have a vision to use language to increase access to knowledge and to save lives. Communications IS aid (#commisaid). And in communications, language is key. We will keep telling this story, and we ask you to keep supporting us in our efforts.
By Rebecca Petras, Translators without Borders Deputy Director and Head of Innovation
July saw the completion by our Health Translation Center in Nairobi, Kenya, of the translation of some 250,000 words of high-level health information. The content was written by the Open University (UK) to train community health workers in the Swahili-speaking regions of East Africa. The completed modules are Prenatal Care, Labour & Delivery Care, and Postnatal Care. Other modules are in the pipeline, and these are about topics such as Infant Care Nutrition and Family Planning.
The team also recently completed the Swahili translation of ten videos on New Born Care. These instructional videos have been conceptualized and produced by Deb Van Dyke’s Global Health Media. In total the team has translated more than 20 videos. The work involved the translation of the English captions (subtitles) and putting the Swahili subtitles in the video, as well as recording the narrative, with Rodha Moraa, one of the translation team members, serving as the ‘voice actor’.
The translation team, recruited and trained in the summer of 2012, has now developed into a super group of experienced health translators. The team is also rather unique, as in East Africa there is no other group of experienced linguists and health workers whose skills and educational backgrounds are combined to work on the translation of such material. We are speaking with international as well as local NGOs about involving our translation team in their projects.
During the coming months we will be investigating the possibility of a program called ‘Training-In-A-Box’. All training material, lecture notes and exercises will be evaluated, and if relevant, updated. The material will then be organized into one package – one ‘Box’ as it were – which TWB can use to support the translator training of linguists and health workers all over the world.
The medical modules concern 15-20 ‘Africa-relevant’ topics, including pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, bilharzia, as well as topics from the social medicine field, such as malnutrition, unsafe abortion, female genital mutilation, and more. Each module has between 15 and 50 slides, and we are in the process of typing in the narrative. The material also includes a large section about the profession of translation.
“The Training-In-A-Box program is an attempt to bring together our know-how and best practices from years of training a host of translators in many different countries,” says TWB President Lori Thicke. “I’m sure it’s going to make the starting up of new teams in the future a whole lot easier.”
Thank you Fund-A-Translator Charity Ride Sponsors!
The second Fund-a-Translator Charity Ride, developed and organized by TextPartner in Poland, took place earlier this summer. Our dedicated cyclists organized a ride through five countries in eastern Europe for a total of 589 kilometers! Each kilometer was available to sponsors for $5. The purpose of the annual ride is to raise funds and awareness for our trainees in Kenya. Each $1,000 raised helps us train a translator for a year.
This year the event was so successful that the team raised the $2,945 for the ride and then kept going beyond $3,000, ending up with a total of 652 sponsored kilometers ($3,260). As promised, they rode the additional kilometers in an extra ride to make sure every sponsored kilometer was cycled.
The TextPartner team conceived of the charity ride in 2012 and did their first ride that year to the ELIA conference in Budapest. Plans are underway for the 2014 ride and the route will be announced soon!
By Simon Andriesen, Board President of TWB Kenya and CEO of MediLingua
Global translation charity, Translators without Borders (TWB) announced the launch of its annual Translators withoutBorders Access to Knowledge Awards. The awards, honoring six individuals or organizations who exemplify the mission to translate for humanity, are chosen and given by the non-profit’s board of directors.
“We have had an exceptional year of progress and success,” said Lori Thicke, president and founder of Translators without Borders. “Reaching 6.5 million words translated through our workspace, opening our first training center in Nairobi, working with Wikipedia on critical health information—none of this would be possible without the generous support of our donors, the dedication of our volunteers, and the commitment of our non-profit partners.”
The organization created the Access to Knowledge Awards to honor volunteers, donors, and non-profit partners. The awards are given within each of the Translators without Borders’ six ‘pillars’, identified earlier this year as part of the organization’s strategic framework. These pillars—Organizational Excellence, Translator Community and Workspace, Training, Nonprofit Partnerships, Financial Sustainability, Awareness and Communications—work together to deliver the mission.
The organization’s executive committee, the management body of board members and the program director, created criteria for each award. Board members and staff members were not eligible. Board members nominated recipients and the executive committee made final decisions on the winners. In addition to six winners, a number of honorable mentions were also awarded.
The Translators without Borders’ Access to Knowledge recipients will receive a Translators without Borders T-Shirt, a lapel pen and a certificate of gratitude.
“I wish we could recognize by name every single person who has contributed to Translators without Borders this year –there are so very many people who make it work,” said Rebecca Petras, program director. “And the real winners are the people who can better understand vital information because of the hard work of ALL our volunteers and support from ALL our donors. Thank you very much to everyone!”
The Excellence Award Awarded to an individual who has gone above and beyond the call-of-duty in helping Translators without Borders meet its mission.
Swisher’s Appointment Highlights the Importance of Developing Global-Ready Content
San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) June 20, 2012 – Content Rules, Inc. today announced that CEO Val Swisher has accepted an invitation to join Translators without Borders’ Board of Directors. As a general board member, Swisher will act as an advisor on future Translators without Borders projects.
Prior to her appointment, Swisher led several collaborative efforts between Content Rules and Translators without Borders, including developing a training course on “How to Write Using Simplified English” for a new team of translators in Nairobi.
Currently, Val and her team at Content Rules are working with Translators without Borders on the “Simple Wikipedia Project.” Throughout this 2+ year endeavor, a total of 80 medical articles posted on Wikipedia will be translated into simple English, which will enable the pages to be translated into many languages around the world.
“Val has already made a tremendous difference in our work in Africa so we are thrilled to welcome her to our board of directors,” says Lori Thicke, Co-Founder of Translators Without Borders. “With her passion and expertise in developing content that can be understood by people of all backgrounds, we look forward to having Val strengthen our impact.”
“As CEO of Content Rules, I have worked with many top companies such as PayPal to make “global readiness” content a priority. However, a personal goal of mine is to extend this concept to people all over the world who need simplified content the most,“ says Swisher. “Now with my involvement with Translators Without Borders, I am certain that creating better content to save lives will undoubtedly become a reality.”
Val Swisher earned her B.A. in Social Psychology and Music from Tufts University. She founded Content Rules in 1994 and under her leadership the company has grown to serve 200+ customers and encompass a network of 2,000+ technically-astute content developers. Val is a frequent speaker on how to create, standardize, and get your content ready for the demands of the global marketplace. Before starting Content Rules, Swisher held management positions at 3Com and SynOptics.
Val lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Greg, her son Max who blogs at Good Morning Geek, and frequently travels to Denver to visit her son Matthew.
About Content Rules
Formerly Oak Hill Corporation, Content Rules reduces the cost of globalizing your content, so you can expand your brands’ footprint into more markets. Implemented in the cloud, ContentRules™ IQ targets companies with an in-house team, reducing the cost of localizing content by up to 40% while enforcing control over content quality and brand standards. For those customers who don’t have an in-house team, Content Rules provides the people and expertise needed in four areas: technical documentation, training development, marketing collateral, and global readiness.
As East Africa faces its worst famine in 60 years, called the children’s famine because they are least likely to survive, those of us who work with languages might wonder how we could possibly be of assistance. How much can translation help to lessen the burden of hunger and insecurity?
Translation can help a great deal, as it turns out.
Translations are necessary to enable international aid groups such as Doctors without Borders, UNICEF, Action Against Hunger and Oxfam to do their work. By donating their time and skills, Translators without Borders volunteers from around the world are freeing up hundreds of thousands of dollars that these and other NGOs can use for caring for people in the field.
But much more needs to be done. Today Translators without Borders is putting out a call for volunteers so we can increase our capacity to respond to these urgent needs. And we are looking for more diverse talents than ever before.
We have a time-critical need for people located in Silicon Valley who can help us raise awareness and funds at the next Localization World to be held October 10thto 12th in Santa Clara, CA. Ulrich Henes and Donna Parrish, the organizers of Localization World, have kindly donated a booth to Translators without Borders, so we need people to staff the booth, a booth manager and volunteers to sell raffle tickets.
To help us raise funds Lionbridge is making another generous contribution: the famed Lionbridge AfterParty will now become a fundraising event for Translators without Borders and open to everyone. To make this a success we need an experienced Event Manager, coordinators, and a lot of helping hands. If you have some hours you can give, we can use your help!
If you are not based in Silicon Valley, or aren’t planning to be at Localization World, there are still many ways you can help. We need a Volunteer Coordinator, to help coordinate our efforts across all of our activities. This is a very key role and would be a perfect fit for a skilled project manager. Translators without Borders also needs volunteers who can make and/or edit videos, write articles, research funding programs, write grant applications, mentor translators in Africa, and of course translate. We are also looking for LSPs who can evaluate tests in different languages using the automated testing platform ProZ.com has programmed for us.
If you want to join the team of growing volunteers, please email [email protected] to tell us what kind of work you do now, and what project you are volunteering for (e.g. booth staff, Event Manager, LSP to evaluate tests).
If you’re short of spare time, but wish to make a financial contribution to our work, please click here to support our work.