Many agencies and organizations provide information to multilingual / multicultural audiences by translating content that was developed in English without really understanding the needs of these audiences. I believe it's important to do your audience research and make sure you understand what information is needed first and then make the decisions as to how it will be provided, i.e., original content, transcreation, ...more »
Content in other languages
What can we do to improve how global audiences and people with limited English proficiency access federal websites?
Generally translations tend to miss the cultural context of the communication. A cultural adaptation of the text is usually better at expressing the intended content. That is starting the communication from scratch after assimilating the intended meaning instead of translating the words.
In some cases the percentage of people who will use a language other than English on websites is lower than we might expect, even among bilingual and multilingual speakers who might speak some other language at home. By studying user needs a priori, the government can determine what content is most needed in each language for the intended audience, and can decide only to implement websites for the content that will be ...more »
The Hispanic/Latino/Spanish origin population is growing rapidly in the US and language/origin data is useful for web designers for multilingual sites. And yet the most recent visual maps put out by the US Census Bureau for Hispanic Population and Spansh speakers in the US use data from years ago. For instance, the latest Spanish speakers map I have found is from the 2000 Census. Updating language and ethnicity maps ...more »
Finding forms and instructions that have been translated into various languages can be challenging. Provide a more uniform user interface for locating materials that can be accessed in different languages. As a case in point, for the Census forms, provide an easy to access website to download the census forms by language (that still allows tracking so that each individual is only counted once). There are many other ...more »
Ensure that once a person has selected which language they want to interact in, the user experience consistently provides content in that language. This is especially important for those who have very limited English proficiency or no English skills. For instance, in a government website if the user has selected Spanish, make sure all content links go to Spanish pages, rather than going back unexpectedly to English ...more »
When developing bilingual and multilingual sites, consider internationalization issues early on in the design process, because space required for other languages varies!
Limited English Proficiency considerations should extend to those segments of the population that are illiterate or who read at lower-than-average-levels.
In what cases is non-lingual content more appropriate? Could a well-designed infographic convey instructions just as well as a paragraph of text?
Would video be a sufficient compliment or supplement to text narrative?
Government agencies should use social media to reach multilingual users, especially the Hispanic community. All agencies need to have a presence in different social media platforms to directly connect to their audience in their specific language; this should be an open dialogue where agencies can listen and learn from these audiences and then provide useful and relevant content on their websites and social media channels. ...more »
Creating a multilingual communication strategy is complex and requires knowledge from many different fields, including linguistics, sociolinguistics, anthropology, ethnographics, demography, technology, communications, marketing, PR, customer service, user experience, graphic design, social media, public policy, business strategy (yes even for government agencies), etc. The government should leverage knowledge from various ...more »
Cultural relevancy is of utmost importance, especially in the healthcare and educational realms. However, it is key to keep in mind that there are members of the LEP audience that do not have a working reading level in their own native language, let alone a low degree of Internet literacy. Pertinent website content may require an audio component to further reach an audience that hails from a more oral tradition. Another ...more »
When creating web content in other languages, ensure a consistent language transition from and to other media and communication channels as well. For instance, if a language-specific website provides telephone numbers to call, make sure they clearly state how to reach phone service in the language of their choice, and have the phone experience provide a consistent language interaction as well. If a media campaign is ...more »