As a central part of our commitment to a quality partner experience and providing effective language solutions, Translators without Borders (TWB) recently conducted our annual partner survey with those partners who use the TWB Kató translation platform. We received 47 responses from a wide range of organizations, and it gave some valuable insights into our partners’ experiences with the platform as well as their language support needs and priorities.
What did we ask, and what were the results?
With the Kató translation platform less than a year old, it was most important to gauge the partners’ experience with the platform. The first question asked, “To what extent are you satisfied with the translations that TWB is providing,” and gave respondents the chance to address quality of translations, turnaround times, communications with TWB staff, technology, and the value for money. In all five areas, the majority of respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied, with communications and value for money recording the highest satisfaction. In terms of dissatisfaction, the highest percentage (19 percent) was recorded in regards to technology, an important finding that is influencing upgrades for 2018.
The next question asked if partners encountered any challenges working with TWB. Analysis of this open-ended question pointed to three areas of general concern: the usability of Kató, turnaround time and consistency in translations. While overall quality was rated high, any concerns about consistency must be addressed, and new quality measures, especially through community recruitment and online quality checks, are being implemented in 2018. Additionally, as part of the upcoming upgrade to Kató 2.0, we expect the partner management pages to be more usable, and we will offer greater support to partners in the transition to the new system.
Turning toward the needs of partners, the survey asked about language support needs, practices and policies. The most important finding was that more than 55 percent of respondents named either local staff, partners or program participants as the main audiences for translations completed by TWB and the TWB Translation Community. As a non-profit with the primary goal to increase access to information in the right languages, TWB strives to focus on this type of program and local staff content, and with the shift in the past year to Kató, we have more effectively met that objective. Additionally, respondents cited literacy levels of the intended audience as the main factor in making formatting decisions (such as written vs. audio or video) and indicated that TWB offers the tools and services they need, including editing, subtitling, and interpreting.
More than half of respondents stated that they had targeted language budgets for communications with local staff and program participants, indicating a commitment to materials in the right languages for those who need them. However, only 19 percent were measuring the effectiveness of translated materials. While the translation of materials is an important step in improving communications, it is important to ensure comprehension and, in some cases, to modify or simplify the original content for the translated content to be understood and effective. TWB will continue to work with partners in establishing more in-depth language solutions as a way to improve overall communications and program outcomes.
Finally, we learned that a majority of our partners are raising awareness about the importance of communicating in local languages within their organizations. This is an encouraging sign. TWB’s model, in which we can provide quality translations at true value, precipitates the need to work with our partners on advocacy for language as an important element in the humanitarian, health, education and human rights toolbox. TWB will continue this advocacy work, with our partners and beyond, in 2018.
We are grateful for the thoughtful contributions of each survey participant. The survey findings will support and inform specific improvements in the ways we create value and act in accordance with the needs and priorities of our partners.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of the survey, either directly contact your TWB project manager or reach us through our general email, [email protected] We invite you to continue to provide insights and ideas to inform our work at any time.