Archive for Reymond

World Refugee Day

Today is World Refugee Day, established by the United Nations to honor the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.

Like me, you may be surprised to learn that there are over 43.7 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world. Many of whom find their way here to the U.S. in need of food, shelter and care. Our hearts go out to these men and women as we think of what it must be like being the mother or father of a sick and hungry child and having to decide between risking your life staying in a conflict or leaving behind everything in search of safety.

Several of these people don’t speak English as a first language and may find it incredibly difficult to find the help they need. At VIA, we believe that bridging the language gap is key to ensuring culturally diverse communities can have equal access to much needed healthcare. For more information on how to address The Growing Challenges of Health Literacy read our brief.

For more information on how you can to participate in World Refugee Day in the USA please visit

Are your Healthcare Communications Reaching your LEP Patients?

The need for language and cultural services in the U.S. is estimated to grow

More than 23 million U.S. residents report having Limited English Proficiency (LEP), and changes to healthcare reform under the Obama administration and Affordable Care Act will increase the demand for language and cultural services in the U.S. to support a growing pool of patients eligible for care. As a result, services specializing in language and culture are in demand and are estimated to grow 12 percent per year.

Engaging and retaining clients, complying with legislation and enabling language access, can be complicated and expensive. Industry research firm, Common Sense Advisory, calculates that that the worldwide language-services business was worth $34 billion in 2012. VIA is dedicated to providing the industry with value-add services such as automated workflow, cultural assessment and free education for its customers. For example in 2012, we added a new service option that allows us to offer a full set of web and mobile training solutions to support the unique needs of the healthcare industry.
Find out more about how VIA can help you reduce costs and meet language access mandates through enhanced centralized translation approach.

What are you doing in 2013 to properly care for your LEP clients?

How to Find a Quality Healthcare Specific Language Service Provider.

Think beyond the sample translation

This year your commitment to healthcare awareness may have brought you in search of a healthcare language service provider and chances are you’re considering a “test” translation as your dependable measure for quality. In the sea of options out there, how else will you know if you are likely to get good quality in a language you are probably not a professional speaker of?
We all soon come to realize that a test translation falls far short of the hoped for guarantee. Perhaps, the “best translator” was put on the test; or maybe it was a fluke. Either way, time after time, a test translation has been the relied upon predictor for long-term quality leaving most of us wondering what happened to the perfect translator.
To put this in perspective, I recently had a linguist tested for quality by two different reviewers. One gave the linguists 68 out of a 100 and the other gave the linguist 92 out of 100.
After 15 years in localization and probably more than 3000 tests, I have come to the following two conclusions:
1. Quality is not an instant deliverable – it is a commitment built and established over time with a mixture of experience in the subject, experience with the company, and time available to do the work.
2. Quality is a partnership between client reviewer and agency linguist.

So when I look for quality in our healthcare vendor pool I place more weight on the mechanisms and framework for building and committing to quality than I do on a test translation. The top three things I look for are:
1. Do the linguists or teams look to develop healthcare specific glossaries and style guides – can they give me examples?
2. Do they monitor and track quality over a period – per month, quarter, or year? Can I see multi-term quality metrics for their teams?
3. Do they have corrective quality frameworks that ensure errors are identified and fixed systematically – can they show me change logs or updates to a sample of their language assets?
If I can establish the existence of systematic long-term quality management then I will in turn commit to supporting and growing quality in a partnership together. Together we can track number of errors and corrections, work on healthcare style guides, glossaries and translation memory assets. We can even manage and work through escalations and record the corrective activities together.
In truth, all this is significantly less work than replacing vendors or dealing with systemic quality issues once the glow of the single excellent “test” result fades. Just like every other aspect of our lives, quality is a long term partnership that only bares fruit with effort and commitment. What do you think is the best predictor of quality in a language service provider?

Contributed by:

Nic McMahonNic McMahon, EVP of Global Solutions

Third edition of ‘Best Practices for Healthcare” now available

Healthcare professionals have an astonishing amount on their plate these days. With evolving regulatory requirements, emerging technology, and the ever-present considerations of cost and risk, it is little wonder that some find it a challenge to also meet their medical translation goals.

After more than a decade working in the industry, including partnering with some 400 healthcare organizations across the U.S., we’ve learned a bit about how best to tackle this difficult enterprise. We’ve taken that knowledge and distilled it down into a handy, easy-to-use guide.

Called “Beyond Translation: Best Practices for Healthcare,” the guide outlines a range of best practices, offers some time-tested tips, shares a few success stories from other healthcare organizations, and points you to valuable translation resources to explore, all with the intention of helping you achieve your medical translation objectives.

We know from working with many of you that each organization has different needs. Some of you might just be beginning to address language access issues, while others could be looking for new ideas and maybe even a dose of encouragement. No matter where you fall, our hope is that you will find something helpful in its pages.

This is our third—and we hope most useful—edition of “Beyond Translation,” and as always we’re making it available to any and all for free. So, if you would like a copy, simply visit the registration page and let us know. You can download it right there, or we’re happy to send you a copy.

Good health!

Machine translation not the silver bullet for medical translation challenges

Much energy and attention has been and continues to be focused on how best to communicate with the increasingly influential Hispanic audience in the U.S. One thing that has been learned is that the Hispanic community is, in many cases, frustrated with those communications. For example, because of the poor quality of so many Spanish translated websites, many deem English sites a better alternative even though not their native language.

A recent post on the Hispanic Online Marketing blog expresses concern that the focus on machine translation, including the much-discussed Google Translate, is unfortunately poised to make matters worse.

The prospect of simply inserting your organization’s website content into Google Translate and receiving in return an effective, accurate translation—and for free—is simply irresistible to many. In reality, it echoes the adage that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Because as Hispanic Online Marketing duly points out, sites that opt to use this tool and others like it tend to carry disclaimers alerting you that what you’re reading may not be accurate or reliable. How, one wonders, is this in any way serving the audience?

Such a move may save you money, but in time, a poorly translated site will cost a great deal more. Language is subtle and as much a product of culture and context as words. The reality is that only a human translator, and one with sufficient experience, can effectively meet today’s translation challenges.

Good health!

New medical device standards demand experienced medical translators

Medical translators who work with medical device manufacturers are familiar with addressing the materials associated with the hardware of these important products. Their experience, effectiveness, and accuracy are crucial facets en route to helping ensure safe use of these devices.

But as technology has evolved and grown more complex, these products increasingly have software that plays a central role in the operation of the device. Unfortunately, in some cases medical translation has failed to keep up with these developments. Thankfully, as the Medical Translation Insight blog points out in a recent post, that is changing.

It started with the update to the Medical Device Directive, which included more controls on the translation of software: Software was not considered a medical product, but that has now changed. Perhaps less familiar to medical translators is the new ISO 62304 standard for software, which requires a quality management system (e.g., ISO 13485) and risk management (ISO 14971).

As Medical Translation Insight points out, the June issue of European Medical Device Technology offers a useful primer on ISO 62304, underscoring that medical device manufacturers should ensure that they select software designers who have well-established risk management systems. Ensuring their medical translators have experience with software is a key as well.

Good health!

Informative resources shine light on the challenges of medical translation

Translation is more than exchanging one set of words for another. As anyone who has worked with translation or translators knows, it depends on the language, the culture, the communication vehicle, and a host of other important details. It is also impacted greatly by the industry for which the translation is being done.

For a variety of reasons, medical translation may pose the greatest number of challenges for the uninitiated language services professional. From the use of obscure medical terminology to the risk to patients if translations are not absolutely accurate, medical translation requires a special knowledge and understanding.

If you are considering joining the industry, or perhaps you work with medical translators and want a window into the work they do, Medical Translation Step by Step by Vicent Montalt and Maria Gonzalez Davis offers a clear and effective study of the discipline.

Published by St. Jerome Publishing, the 250-page book offers a comprehensive and practical look at medical translation, exploring a range of important issues, including medical writing, translation practice, and exploration of different methods for learning.

For another perspective, visit Sarah Dillon’s There’s something about translation blog and her interview with Andrew Bell. Bell, who operates AAA Scandinavian Translation and specializes in medical/pharmaceutical translation services, shares his experience working in the field.

It’s good for all of us to appreciate that what we do is important. And it’s good for those who call on our services to remember that translation is more than a simple exchange of words, especially when it comes to people’s health.

Good health!

Access to justice another casualty of poor translation services

As anyone who has read Speaking Healthcare knows, or anyone that has worked with viaLanguage for that matter, one of our key aims is to help ensure that language does not prevent equal access to healthcare for limited English proficient (LEP) patients.

A recent news item underscores that healthcare is not the only arena in which language can prove a frustrating and potentially damaging obstruction. Last week American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a legal brief in the state of Georgia for what can only be considered a dereliction of justice.

In the case in question, a Chinese (Mandarin) speaker was sentenced to 10 years in prison after a trial in which she did not understand any of the proceedings. According to reports, her own attorney failed to request an interpreter for fear of delaying the trial or annoying the jury.

And it’s not an issue unique to the U.S. Countries from Australia to South Africa to Korea are seeking to improve their legal interpreting standards and services. In Ireland, the Irish Times recently revisited a 2003 case in which a Mongolian man did not understand the reading of his rights, a breakdown that led to a review of standards that by the paper’s assessment has produced little benefit.

What seems clear is that just as challenges remain to ensuring equal access to healthcare for LEP patients, so too are their language barriers to an equal access to justice. The upside is that both failings can be easily rectified: It’s simply a matter of delivering effective translation services.

Good health!

How to translate working with communities into giving back to them

At viaLanguage, we like to believe that at its heart medical translation, and in fact all translation, is really about building community. That’s what effective communication makes possible. So, I guess you could say we sort of have a community-minded focus just by virtue of the work we do.

Looking at it this way, it makes sense that we would feel a natural desire to give back. And I wanted to take this post to formally applaud all the people at viaLanguage, and beyond, who find the time and make the effort to do that during the year. Cheers to all of you!

Are you looking for some philanthropic ideas for your company? Here are few organizations and efforts we support:

Humane Society – viaLanguage donates one paid day to each employee to support their favorite non-profit. The company also offers an annual team volunteer opportunity. This year it’s the Humane Society—because pets are also part of the community!
Operation Cornbread – viaLanguage supports Sisters of the Road Café in Portland, Ore., as part of that organization’s annual matching program, Operation Cornbread, which keeps food coming to the needy during the peak summer months.
• Annual Translation Grants – We offer in-kind translation grants for organizations reaching out to limited English proficient (LEP) communities, both Healthcare and K12.
Heifer International – We provide annual support to a needy family by purchasing and donating a cow. Learn more about this unique program in an earlier post.

As the Oregon Lottery once said, though I paraphrase, “Your odds of winning are 550,000 to one—significantly higher than if you don’t play.” And it’s the same with making a difference. Act and you can help.

Good health!

A hearty good luck to the translators at this year’s World Cup

We spend a good deal of time and energy in our discussions here exploring the challenges that go along with medical translation. And there are many to be sure; our world is only growing more heterogeneous and complicated. But sometimes it can be reassuring to remember that other industries face even greater translation challenges.

This occurred to me in reading about the World Cup currently under way in South Africa. Just consider for a moment that this event, the largest sporting spectacle in the world, is comprised of teams from 32 nations, with 350,000 on-site fans, 500 million more watching on TV, and by some estimates more than $3 billion in media and marketing revenues.

I began to imagine the sorts of heavy lifting necessary to ensure that all the various audiences, with their unique languages and cultures, enjoy equal access to accurate, up-to-date information about the games. South Africa alone has 11 official languages!

A recent post on the Global Watchtower blog identified just a few of items on what must be a very long list. Needs include signage, website localization, translation of tourist brochures, press announcements, voice-over, and on-site medial translation support. The official World Cup website itself is available in six languages (Arabic, English, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese).

So, if you ever feel overwhelmed by your medical translation demands, just remember: It could be worse. J

Good health!