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What can we do to improve how global audiences and people with limited English proficiency access federal websites?

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cheap gap fix: require all sites to add Google Translate code

http://translate.google.com/translate_tools

 

This does not solve all problems with translation, accessibilty and fairness, but it does fill a huge gap in a simple and cheap way. All it requires are some minor includes, etc.

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Use "folksonomy" not taxomomy for multi-language/culture sites

In many situations it is important to use the terminology that is used my the locals, and not the "official" government language.

 

An example of this can be in a pull down menu for "country"... Although the official name name is "Republic of the Union of Myanmar" people know it as BURMA.

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Identify where multilingual content is appropriate on same page

In some situations having the same content on a single page in multiple languages is useful. The classic example is a screen full of "Welcome" words in many languages. But other situations exist, especially for cases where the target audience includes bilingual speakers. For instance, although mixtures of English and Spanish, often referred to as "Spanglish" are sometimes frowned upon, it is very natural for many bilingual ...more »

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Consistent language experience across communication channels

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 »

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Develop cross-disciplinary multilingual/cultural best practices

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 »

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Consider education level of multicultural audiences

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 »

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Consistent language experience across web pages

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 »

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Consider Internationalization Issues Early On

When developing bilingual and multilingual sites, consider internationalization issues early on in the design process, because space required for other languages varies!

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Content in other languages includes content in no language

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?

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Government agencies and social media

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 »

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Update language/origin/ethnicity maps and other language data

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 »

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Make it easier to find forms and instructions in other languages

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 »

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