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How Mature is Your Language Access Program?

Understanding where you are on the path to If you’ve done any work in the IT world, you may have heard of the Capability Maturity Model.

The Capability Maturity Model was originally developed as a tool for objectively assessing the ability of government contractors’ processes to implement a contracted software project. 


There have been efforts to define types of maturity in the language business. (see the localization maturity model). I believe this model applies to any organization who is seeking to provide language access for the community it serves. Organizations tend to naturally go through each step following the needs and each level builds on the one before. Understanding the steps in more detail can provide a roadmap in how to truly achieve an equitable service. I’ll summarize each level, and you can see which best describes your organization.

Level 1 – Reactive

At this stage, when you receive a request to translate or schedule an interpreter, you have to figure out how you’re going to provide it. You think about translation after the English source has already been published and have to make rush requests to Language Service Providers, or you rely on Google Translate a lot.

Your community sees that you’re trying, but they get frustrated because of poor quality or late information.

Level 2 – Repeatable

At level 2, you know what to do when someone needs translation or an interpreter. You have a process for requesting services and there is a clear understanding of what needs to be translated to create meaningful access. You know what languages are needed, and you have a list of translators, interpreters, and suppliers to make sure services are met. Furthermore, you’ve vetted the translation team to ensure that they are qualified to provide good service. You also request certain quality steps for translation projects. Others in your organization know who to contact when needs arise, but they may not know how to schedule them.

Level 3 – Defined

At this level, you have a formal process for requesting services (i.e. an online portal like and everyone in your organization is familiar with how to use it. Translation and Interpretation services are planned and implemented early in a project. You provide training materials and other documentation. In addition, you have suppliers set up ready and know how to provide service. You have also developed and manage terms and glossary lists for reference by translators and interpreters.

Level 4 – Managed (Capable)

At level 4, language access has become central to all the services provided through the organization. You have implemented systems to track important data on how, when and what is being translated. In addition, there is more accountability around providing high quality services. Terms and glossaries are managed and adhered to by anyone who supplies services. Suppliers demonstrate their abilities through certification or testing. You are confident your process produces human sounding translation and interpretation that reflects the tone of your organization.

Level 5 – Optimizing (Efficient)

The final level, you engage with community groups who work with those who work with your translated content to provide ongoing feedback. You collect and review feedback and you implement changes as needed. You see the results of your language access program as all community members can freely access and participate in any program without worry about their English abilities.

Did you know Mindlink can Help?

Learn about how our tools and services can help get you to the next level in your journey to provide language access!

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