Making a difference

Silicon Valley lies some 9,000 miles away from West Africa, and a world away in terms of high-tech development. Yet organizations working in both regions require some similar skills. When Translators without Borders (TWB) needed help with healthcare initiatives aimed at countries such as Ethiopia, it turned to Content Rules, a Los Gatos-based professional services company that specializes in global content. Its brief was to simplify source material pre-translation to ensure that the end product would be easily understood by people of any background – absolutely crucial when lives are at stake.

A global approach

CEO Val Swisher explains that Content Rules has worked with content of all types, from words and pictures to multimedia. The company focuses on content strategy, development, and global readiness, to ensure source content is as easy as possible to translate. “Our work might be technical or related to marketing or training and we draw on a team of some 2,000 freelance professionals, including writers, editors, graphic artists and website coders. Our location means we have particular experience in the technology sector which also encompasses life science companies.” This expertise combined with the company’s global perspective means Content Rules is ideally placed to work with Translators without Borders.

“It was just before Christmas a year ago,” recalls Swisher, “that Translators without Borders approached us with a request to help with their Simple Wikipedia Project, a two-year project to translate into simple English a total of 80 medical articles posted on Wikipedia.”

The aim, Swisher says, was to facilitate translation into languages around the world. “I circulated a request for volunteers among our freelancers and the response was absolutely overwhelming. Since then, our volunteers have also helped develop a training course for a new team of translators in Nairobi on how to write using simplified English, produced health brochures and pamphlets for Kenya and worked on a major project called Health, Education and Training for Africa. This content was originally written for Ethiopia and we were tasked with making it more generically African so that it can be used as widely as possible. It’s already earmarked for use in Uganda.”

Life-changing work

Content Rules volunteers are currently working on multiple Translators without Borders projects. “They are all absolutely passionate about this work, as am I,” says Swisher. “I’ve been in this business for almost 19 years, during which time I’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredibly brilliant technical minds and some of the very best companies – but working with TWB is so direct and so personal and so life-changing. To be able to help and save lives in this way is a true honor and a blessing. Although it sounds corny, that is what I feel about this work, and it has become one of the main reasons I get up in the morning and come to work. If I were independently wealthy and didn’t need to earn any money, I’d donate 100 percent of my time to this effort, and every one of the editors who works on these projects feels the same.”

Sarah Powell


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