community-engagement

What does Community Engagement Mean for Education?

Can you have community engagement without a clear idea on who the people are in your community? Despite good efforts, I’ve recently read about examples in the news where community members were excluded due to cultural or language access limitations. Read these examples and tell me. . .what went wrong?

Example #1: Teacher’s Strike in Los Angeles, CA

I heard a program on NPR about the recent teacher strike in Los Angeles. A Spanish-speaking father went to drop his son off at school, but there was no school. The district sent communication out, but it was not in Spanish. The father had no idea there was a strike going on. Once he got to the school, he realized quickly he was going to have to scramble for child care.

Although the student’s needs are being considered in the school district, in this case the family’s needs were not. I wonder if this father really feels like he is a part of the school community?

How can a school improve community engagement by proactively helping non-English speaking families take part in a meaningful way?

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Example #2: Measles Outbreak in Clark County, WA

My county is in the news recently, but not in a good way. There is a measles outbreak–more than 40 people have contracted this awful condition, which is completely avoidable with modern vaccinations. The public reaction has been very harsh. Even I found myself judging people saying things like “these anti-vaccination believers are crazy and causing all kinds of public health issues!”.

But then I read that the outbreak began in a local Slovak church. Clark County has a strong immigrant community. In fact, according to the US Census Bureau, 15% of the county speaks a language other than English at home. The church where the outbreak may have started does not teach that vaccinations are harmful; however, some immigrants and refuges are distrustful and choose not to get them. Per the article:

. . .some parents mistrust the vaccines. The mistrust may be a holdover from time spent living in the former Soviet Union.

That last thought made me much more sympathetic. Instead of meeting these people where they are, we write them off as “crazy anti-vaccinators”. Maybe we should be asking ourselves how we can provide better education and resources for people who are originally from other cultures?

What Lessons Can We Derive from these Examples to Improve Community Engagement?

  1. Immigrants/Refuges are part of our community.
  2. Limited-English speakers aren’t getting the same information as the native English speakers.
  3. An increased effort from educational and public organizations to provide meaningful access to information will benefit the whole community.
  4. Inclusion means providing information as well as listening to community members who have limited-English speaking abilities.
  5. There are support and tools to help you do this!

The good news is–we can help. By sitting down with one of our Coordinators, we can design a solution that will meet the needs of everyone in your community. Whether you need an interpreter at a town hall, access to translators, or building an informational website — we can help! Contact us today.

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medical-interpreter

Language Access in Health Care Creates Cultural Competence

I had the privilege this week of sitting down with some nursing students to talk about one of my favorite subjects, Language Access for health care! In the interview below, I discussed the meeting with my colleague, Jana Bitton, who is the Executive Director at Oregon Center for Nursing.

Here are a few of the things we discussed:

What are some challenges when providing language access?

As we spoke, Bitton observed that, in her experience, nurses are pretty good about using interpreters appropriately. Occasionally, a nurse may grab someone who is bi-lingual to provide interpretation for patients, not necessarily someone trained in medical translation for convenience.

There is also issues with cost, technology, and efficiency. All of these can be overcome, but are the right incentives in place?

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Do we need legislation?

Some are looking at adding legislation to make sure health systems are complying with providing translation and interpretation services.  Bitton likes the idea. She said that sometimes you do need to legislate things because there is not another reason to change behavior. However, there are some incentives built into current health care reforms in the form of a positive patient experience. The better the experience, the more funds that come to the organization. The relates directly to providing treatment and communication in the native languages of patients.

I adore about nurses. They are the people at the front line of the health care fight. They are seeing all levels of society and where the problems are. They are identifying any issues they see. Nurse-led effort to improve communication with patients is really important.

What are some current ideas that are working/not working?

There have been some efforts made to improve culturally competent discharge procedures. When discharging, you need to sit down and make sure they understand what just happened to them and what is the follow up.

In the interview, we heard about Providence Hood River Medical Center who recently realized that there were not a lot of cultural competence in place considering language, etc. They revamped the discharge procedure and made sure they had an interpreter there to ensure.

What do you think?

Do you have any thoughts about more challenges for providing language access in health care? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Listen to our Discussion Here:

interpretation

The Nuclear Summit and the Importance of a Trained Interpreter

The news media has recently taken particular focus on the coverage of the Trump and Kim nuclear summit of June 11, 2018. As a recent TIMES report mentions, a solid trained interpreter feels the pressure of achieving a successful meeting  of the country leaders for which they interpret.

The Times report quotes Jenna Gibson, Director of Communications at the Korea Economic Institute of America, saying, “There are very nuanced differences between words and between levels of formality in Korean.” She adds, “I don’t envy the translators at the summit, because they are going to have to make split-second decisions.”

In extreme scenarios, the interpreters’ choice of words have the power to make the difference between world peace and world war. Of course, interpreters of this caliber are highly trained in transparency and are capable of clarifying their message, should it be required.

But this brings about an important point: for any event to be successful, the interpreter must be in sync with the speaker. They must have expert knowledge on the topic being discussed. They must have a solid contextual understanding of the perception of the topic between the parties involved. This is why professional trained interpreters are so important!

Additionally, the must have nimble social skills to learn and adapt to the speakers intonation and speaking pattern in order to fully render the meaning of the speaker’s message. In other words, the interpreter must know not only the meaning behind the words spoken, but also the meaning behind how they are spoken. For example, did the speaker’s hesitant “No” mean, “No, I didn’t understand and I’m saying no because it’s a yes/no question..”, or “No, I don’t want to”. 

Often times, finding a good interpreter for your event is difficult. Most organizations don’t have the resources to learn to screen, hire, and manage an interpreter, let alone organize all the interpreter needs. That’s where language agencies come in.

A language company who has their client’s concerns in mind will support their client throughout their planning phases of the event where they’ll be using the interpreting service. Besides seeking out to fill the interpreter requests, the customer focused language company will want to be part of the planning team. It will request as much information about the event to be discussed. From general topic information, to the powerpoint presentation or speech of the speakers–the language agency will want to see it all.

translation-collaboration

What We’ve Lost in Translation Project Collaboration

Sometimes the toughest part about human translation is developing the right strategy for Translation Project Collaboration with the translation team. Depending on the scope of the project, there are a lot of moving pieces and it can be tricky to keep things organized. But, how do you balance the use of technology to get the most from working with humans? I’m happy to tell you, there is a way.

The first time I tried translation project collaboration was in 1997 as a fresh college graduate. I worked for a government contractor in San Diego. My boss decided to respond to a Request for Proposal (RFP) that was for the El Salvadoran government. They required one copy of the 100+ page proposal in English and one in Spanish. And we had a week to do it before the deadline.

At the time, tools like computer-aided translation, dropbox, google translate hadn’t been invented yet. I did know my way around Windows 95 and considered myself pretty advanced at the current version of Microsoft Word.

Since I had studied French and Italian in College, I was appointed to coordinate the team of about twelve native Spanish speakers that my boss arranged to do the actual translation.

I still remembered the day the team showed up and looked at me like “ok we’re here”. I felt very ill-equipped. In 1997, you couldn’t just google problems like you can now (maybe I could have searched AOL, but it didn’t even occur to me to do that).

I have to admit, it wasn’t an easy start. We had a couple of duplicate pages translated, hiccups on the formatting of tables and graphs, and a LOT of questions that I couldn’t answer. But sometimes when the stress piles on, you get a “eureka” moment! This happened to me. I suddenly had this flash of how to get organized!

I collected all the documents that the team was using and I printed ONE copy of the proposal.  Each linguist took a page out of the “outbox” I had created. They translated the page and saved the translated document on the central server (we did have at least a network back then, come on!). I would then integrate the translations into a master document and apply the same formatting as in English. At the end, I would be able to print the completed Spanish version and have a couple of proofreaders go through it to help with consistency.

Once we got organized, it became a lively process. We asked each other questions and debated language and meaning. As the resident native English speaker, I had to explain sometimes the intention of the source document. Sometimes I even made translation suggestions! Sadly, we didn’t win the bid. But it was certainly not due to our beautiful Spanish version of the proposal.

Twenty years later, translation project coordination is MUCH easier. We have powerful tools to aid in organizing, assigning and translating about any type of document. As an efficiency geek, I love how streamlined it is. Reducing stress increases the quality of the translation. In addition, translation can be done from a laptop from wherever and whenever. This opens doors for trained translators to have a flexible and fulfilling career; as well as making translation more available for people who historically may have been linguistically isolated.

But, I can’t help thinking that with all the powerful and innovative tools available, that something may have been lost. For years I have wanted to find a way to recreate that lively and collaborative process of having everyone in a room. This is why I created LinguistLink.

For years I have wanted to find a way to recreate that lively and collaborative process of having everyone in a room. This is why I created LinguistLink.

Although it’s no replacement for that face to face interaction, we’re using efficient technologies to enable communication for everyone involved in a project. Linguists can post questions and  discussions in a central discussion board. They can even ask the creators of the source with information. Project Managers and Requesters can track what is going on and keep things moving. Human beings have more value than just operating tools. Linguistlink is a space to bring that value to every project.

non-profit-websites

5 Easy Steps that Will Make Your Non-profit Website Stand Out

Recently we have been tasked with creating a series of courses as a non-profit website for an organization catering to advocates of domestic violence survivors. The subject itself is sensitive and with that in mind we wanted to design the site in a way that would be compelling, engaging, easy to navigate and easy to find. Here’s what we learned along the way:

Highlight your Mission Statement on Each Page of Your Non-Profit Website

An average user forms an opinion about your website and company in about 0.5 seconds from opening the webpage. Within the next 10 seconds they will decide whether they want to continue or leave and that’s how much (or little) time you have to make a positive impression and entice visitors to further exploration.

Since not all users will visit your site via the homepage it is important to state your key purpose on each page. Your values, your goal, your mission statement should be visible without having to jump from page to page.

Make your Non-Profit Website Personal

It will be far easier for the visitors to connect with your non-profit and see it in a positive light if your company tells a story.

Who is running your non-profit, how did they come around to doing it? Who are the people you’ve helped and what are their stories? Presenting a story of a person who managed to break through an abusive relationship and who now gives back by supporting others in a similar situation can be more powerful than statistics and even most impressive numbers.

Navigation for your Non-Profit Website is a Key

You should spend some time looking at your site from the end user’s perspective. If you were a first-time visitor, what would be your experience? How easy is it to find referenced information? Is your site fully functional (properly working links etc)?

Shift your Focus from the Non-Profit Website Homepage to Interior Pages

You probably think of the homepage as a virtual business card or a book cover and that’s where you focus your attention. After all it represents your company and for many visitors it’s the first contact they have with your organization. It is also, by the definition the most unfocused page, since it has to appeal to various motivations and needs of your target audience.

However, you should also think about those who find your site by typing in a search engine words or phrases that relate to your mission. They will, most likely land on an interior page and not your homepage.

A useful tool that may help you better design your site is the web analytics. What is number one page users are visiting? Surprisingly, it may not be your homepage. How much time do they spend there? Do they click the link/interior page you’re hoping to direct them to?

Be Transparent on Your Non-Profit Website

We cannot stress enough how important it is to be transparent. To many Americans it is essential to know where the donated money goes. If a charity spends large amounts of money on administrative costs and salaries or, even worse, has a vague description of spending practices it will be off-putting to your audience.

Set your non-profit apart by having clear and easy to access financial reports. Make sure the visitors know their donations make a difference and are indeed well spent.

If you are interested in help making your website an effective resource for your organization, contact us for a free consultation!

your-own-translation

What Can Translation Vendors Do that I Can’t?

If you are looking at translation vendors to help you connect with your non-English speaking clients, you may wonder if you can manage the projects yourself. I’m going to tell you something you won’t hear from too many translation providers. . .you can!

You may consider an in-house team if you frequently need to provide translated material for similar customers in a set group of languages. Like, if you always need documents translated into Spanish, Russian, and Chinese, you might benefit from your own process. When there are variable document types and language needs, that could bring extra head-aches. One of the benefits of using a vendor is you can focus on what you do best.

Pro’s and Con’s for Building an In-House Team

There are definitely pro’s and con’s to developing an internal language team. For example:

Pro’s Con’s
A dedicated team can build expertise in your content. You may not have the infrastructure to qualify linguists to ensure they are the right fit.
You can save some money on Project Management tasks. Building this service takes time away from your already busy job.
You can be assured that files are securely handled. Specialized translation database tools can be expensive and difficult to learn
You can manage the quality process. You may not have the expertise to manage the quality process.

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Should I Support Translation In-House?

But for those of you who love DIY (Do-it-Yourself) tasks (I’m guilty of this!). You might consider if you’re really able to take on managing your translation workflow. If I haven’t convinced you, have you see these “pinterest fails”?

I’m always happier with the end result when I leave it to the professionals!

Fortunately, there are some options where you can get the best of both worlds. By partnering with Mindlink, you will have all the benefits of the professional agency while engaging with your own team. Let’s talk!

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