A Recap of GALA’s Boston Conference

Latha Sukumar, Executive Director of MCIS and TWB donor, left, with Eric DeLuca, TWB
Latha Sukumar, Executive Director of MCIS, left, with Eric DeLuca, TWB

The Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) 2018 conference has come to a close. Those of us who managed to make it to and from Boston – despite the two feet of snow – were rewarded with a vibrant and exciting conference. As the Monitoring, Evaluating & Learning Manager for Translators without Borders, this was a chance for me to share our story with a community that understands the importance of having access to information in a language and format that can be understood.

This year’s GALA conference highlighted current trends in the localization and language industry so that we can better understand the technologies and business practices shaping our future. Attending sessions and interacting with stakeholders encouraged us in a few ways. Machines are not going to replace humans in the majority of translation work anytime soon; the industry has to continue to embrace this technology in order to remain innovative. Multimedia language services, such as voice-overs and subtitling, are continuing to grow rapidly as content-creators are increasingly favoring video formats.

What became clear is that there is a lot of work to do before we see widespread support for under-resourced languages.

These industry trends have important implications for TWB. We are currently scaling up programs in both Nigeria and Bangladesh. This allows us to support language services in a variety of under-resourced languages: Hausa, Kanuri, Shuwa Arabic, Bengali, Burmese, and Rohingya. We work with populations who often have low levels of literacy, which makes audio, video, and visual content important formats that we will continue to focus on in order to reach the most vulnerable populations.

Many of the languages we work in have limited or nonexistent machine translation technology support. This means that millions of disaster and conflict-affected populations cannot experience the full benefits of automatic machine translations. Translators as well cannot fully benefit from the speed and accuracy improvements that machine translation suggestions can provide. This is why we are excited to have recently launched the innovative project “Gamayun – the Language Equality Initiative. We will work with a variety of partners to help build open-source datasets in crisis-relevant, under-resourced languages.

Our vision is to live in a world where knowledge knows no language barriers, and we believe it is essential that crisis-affected populations have the same access to the cutting edge technology and language resources that many of us enjoy.

As the conference came to an end, we were incredibly fortunate that our friends at Ludejo and Memsource put on another fundraiser in support of our work. The support from the industry was overwhelming, with over 120 people coming out to raise over $4,000 for Translators without Borders.

If you would like to support TWB to help fund translation and innovation efforts, you can find out more here.

Written by Eric DeLuca, Monitoring, Evaluating and Learning Manager for Translators without Borders

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