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Jeju Province to Expand Language Services for Workers

Interpretation, Translation

Receiving thousands of requests for translation and interpretation services each year, the Jeju Province has decided to expand its language services to include seven new languages, including Nepali, Indonesian, and Cambodian.

The Special Self-Governing Jeju Province, which encompasses the South Korean island of Jeju in the Korea Strait, has announced that it will expand and operate the interpretation and translation services of the Foreign Workers Support Center under the Provincial Office. The stated purpose is to facilitate foreign workers’ adaptation to the local communities, alleviate various life inconveniences, and resolve human rights issues.

Located off the coast of South Korea, the Jeju Province currently provides foreign language interpretation and translation services for foreign workers through the Foreign Workers Support Center. The center plans to expand interpretation and translation consultations and services from the existing English, Chinese, Filipino, and Vietnamese to seven new languages, including Nepali, Indonesian, and Cambodian. As of the end of August this year, the Foreign Workers Support Center had conducted over 2,000 consultations.

According to the monthly statistical report of the Immigration Service of the Ministry of Justice, as of the end of June 2020, there are 11,896 registered foreigners in Jeju Province from China, 3,567 from Vietnam, 1,795 from Indonesia, 1,278 from Nepal, 625 from the Philippines, and 458 from Cambodia.

The consultations fell into several categories, including 300 cases of overdue wages, 270 cases of workplace change, and 171 cases related to immigration. Other matters such as medical care, industrial accidents, education, daily life grievances, and interpretation and translation issues were also discussed. As for the nationality of the consultees, Chinese nationals represented the largest group at 982, followed by 406 Nepalese, 259 Vietnamese, 205 Filipino, 107 Sri Lankans, and 87 Yemeni.

The announcement for the expansion also comes at a pivotal time as the region works to keep COVID-19 cases low. South Korea has had several holidays in the past few weeks, including its five-day fall harvest festival of Chuseok, along with the national Hangeul Day holiday. According to officials, the combined number of outside visitors to the island during these holidays reached some 460,000. Notably, the island has not seen a new virus case reported since Sept. 23, according to health officials.

“We will come up with a variety of support measures for foreign workers to adapt quickly to the community and resolve any grievances they may have,” said Choi Myeong-dong, director of the Job Economy and Trade Bureau.

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SDL Tados 2021

Francophone Translation Services Resume in Grand Prairie, Alberta

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Alberta’s Grande Prairie Translation Centre and Employment Services stopped receiving grant money in April, forcing services for the Francophone community to halt. After securing a new grant, however, the company has now resumed services.

After months of closure, the Francophone community in Grande Prairie, Alberta, can once again access translation and employment services. As of October 13th, the Grande Prairie Translation Centre and Employment Services operations were restored, as the service was granted new funding.

The Translation Centre and Employment Service is part of the Grande Prairie Regional Association Canadienne-Française de l’Alberta and works to better the interests of local Francophone communities. This includes establishing connections with community programs, offering job search aid and translation, among other services.

The Association Canadienne-Française de l’Alberta Régionale de Grande Prairie has been funded by the provincial government since April 2018, but that ran out after two years. Association director Michelle Margarit says the reopening followed a recent awarding of a federal grant money from the Diversity Funds for Francophones of Western Canada.

“We were out since the first of April. The Province of Alberta did not renew our contract,” she says. “We are standing with the funds that we received from the federal government now.”

Margarit adds the new grants will keep the services active for another 18 months, and she expressed an interest in applying to the federal government for more funds to keep the service up and running in the long term.

According to Margarit, the team served roughly 350 francophones a year and were answering about 650 calls from people looking for jobs and wanted to come work in Grande Prairie. She says people from Quebec, the Maritimes, and other regions of Alberta tended to call looking for work in the area, as well as for information and assistance to get settled with their families.

“They would call us and ask for information on housing, [and] on the labor market. They were getting ready to come and they knew we were here to help them when they arrived,” she says. “For us Francophone, it is very crucial to keep our community active and healthy.”

Margarit says the decision from the province to stop funding did not come as a surprise after they did not renew their working contract at the usual time, instead requiring a funding application to be submitted. This was later rejected.

“The provincial government has to realize that this is a very essential program for our community because we are the only Francophone services in the north of Alberta,” she says. She notes that 10% of the population in Grande Prairie is Francophone, and they serve many Francophones from the larger county as well.

The Translation and Employment Centre is now open Mondays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.

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League of Women Voters Spokane Translate Sample Ballots

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The League of Women Voters has partnered with several organizations to ensure people from non-English speaking communities can exercise their right to vote by attaining better access to translated materials.

A new project aims to help Spokane, Washington, voters from all backgrounds be as engaged as possible in the upcoming election. League of Women Voters of the Spokane Area volunteer event coordinator Sherri Gangitano said the League is ramping up its activity in the countdown to November 3.

“This election is huge. It is critical to protecting our Democracy, and so the League is wanting to reach as many people as possible to ensure that their vote and their voice is heard,” Gangitano said.

As part of its efforts, the League of Women Voters has partnered with several organizations, including Spokane International Translation, Refugee Connections Spokane, and the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund to make the voting process more accessible. The project was created by the League’s Susan Hales. She wanted to translate voting instructions and sample ballots into six other languages: Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and Vietnamese.

“When immigrants and refugees study for the US citizenship exam, the materials do not prepare them to vote because the voting rules differ in every state,” said Hales. “Some English as a Second Language classes include citizenship information with basic information on how to connect their votes with what is important to them.”

Refugee Connections Spokane executive director Marijke Fakasiieiki added that this translation project will provide an invaluable tool to the community. “Refugees and immigrants who don’t speak English as a first language would be able to not only register to vote but have a sample ballot in their own language so they would be able to understand and be literate in the voting process,” Fakasiieiki said.

She stressed these are unofficial translations of ballots that can be used as a key to understand the official ballots from the Spokane County Elections Office. The office said the translations are an excellent resource, but voters must fill out and return their official English ballots in order for their votes to be counted.

“The League of Women Voters focuses on long term civic engagement, registering people to vote and engaging them as voters. They have connected with APIC, Latinos en Spokane and the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) to develop collaborative voter events, as well as voter registration kits for voters who are houseless,” said Hales, who has lived in Spokane for 30 years.

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Weymouth Public School Meetings Now with CC Translation

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In response to demand for translation of the meetings, the school district will now work with the Weymouth Educational Telecommunications Corporation to bring multilingual closed-captioning to meeting recordings.

A school district in Massachusetts has launched a closed-captioning translation pilot program for school committee meeting recordings. This week, Weymouth School District’s School committee chair Lisa Belmarsh and superintendent Jennifer Curtis-Whipple announced that Weymouth Public Schools struck a partnership with the Weymouth Educational Telecommunications Corporation (WETC) to implement the program for all future meetings.

The program comes in response to the pandemic, as well as in connection with the Return to School Racial Equity Subcommittee. As part of the program, School Committee meetings will provide closed captioning in English for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing, though the announcement did not mention use of any Sign Language like ASL. The meetings will also provide a translation of the meeting in Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic — the school district’s most common non-English languages — within 24 hours of the meeting, with the hope to expand access to community members so that students and parents can receive and understand information shared by the district.

“It’s essential that parents and guardians receive information from the district so that they can help their children get the right technology, support their child’s school work, have the ability to make informed choices and get the support they need for a successful school year,” said Belmarsh. “To accomplish this, the district identified an increased need to have the information translated so that parents and guardians who do not speak English can access the most current information being shared during our school committee meetings. WETC eagerly stepped up to the request and is an essential partner in this endeavor to make information available to more people within our community.”

WETC had previously offered closed captioning services on local municipal meetings that were recorded and posted onto its website throughout the past year, but has recently shifted also to include translation of captions into additional languages.

“Once the School Committee and Administration voiced the need for a more inclusive way to broadcast and share meetings, WETC wanted to assist in any way possible,” said WETC Director Jeff Cummings. “We are extremely excited to see the positive impact that this pilot program will have on ensuring everyone in the district receives the information they need to succeed.”

Translated meetings will only be available on WETC’s On Demand video player, not on TV broadcast nor as livestream during meetings. The meetings are expected to be viewable with multilingual closed captioning in under 24 hours.

To create closed captioning on the recordings, WETC uses its video server company, Telvue. The Telvue server processes the audio file and the computer then generates the text for the captioning in English. Once the captioning is created in English, the server then transcribes the English captions into the three additional languages. The Portuguese, Spanish, and Arabic translations may be delayed as the English captions are processed first. Additionally, Telvue also offers an English transcript of the recording, which can be found in the lower, right hand corner of the video player.

“In the time of COVID-19, the process of disseminating information to the public in a timely and equitable fashion is as important as ever,” Superintendent Curtis-Whipple said. “To ensure that our students stay up-to-date with important information and understand our new safety protocols, we must be able to share these details with all of our demographics regardless of what language barrier they may have. Adding Portuguese, Spanish and Arabic translations allows us to be more inclusive for non-English speaking, deaf and hard of hearing communities.”

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TFON Translating Health Info for Indigenous Languages

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Addressing exclusion of languages in vital health materials, Translations 4 Our Nations (TFON) has translated COVID-19 resources into over 40 Indigenous languages.

As communities across the globe reckon with linguistic exclusion from national government health protocols during the pandemic, one group has formed to mitigate the devastation many have faced due to lack of timely, accessible information regarding COVID-19. Formed by a group of medical and public health students, Translations 4 Our Nations (TFON) has created a global initiative in translating COVID-19 resources into more than 40 Indigenous languages from over 30 countries. Community- and Indigenous-led, the initiative facilitates accessible distribution of health information, and organizers eventually plan to launch a free website.

Reviewed by Harvard doctors, Harvard medical students, and Indigenous youth leaders from the UN Global Indigenous Youth Caucus, the translated materials aim to provide the Indigenous community with important information about health safety and COVID-19 in their native languages.

“I founded this initiative because I saw how my own Indigenous communities struggled with lack of COVID-19 information that was in their language or culturally relevant to their contexts,” said Victor Anthony Lopez-Carmen, founder of TFON and second-year medical student at Harvard Medical School. “The idea was to work directly with Indigenous community members in the spirit of partnership, and make sure the benefits went back to them and their communities.”

During the early stages of the pandemic, the United Nations’ Department of Economics and Social Affairs reported a complete lack of “relevant information about infectious diseases and preventive measures” in Indigenous languages internationally.

For co-founders Thilaxcy Yohathasan and Sterling Stutz, both York alumnae and Master of Public Health in Indigenous Health candidates at the University of Toronto, this initiative resonated with them personally, as they are both settlers on Indigenous lands.

“Many Indigenous scholars have written about the possibility for COVID-19 to exacerbate existing health disparities. This project is international in scope and allows myself, as a student living and working in Toronto, to connect with and build relationships with Indigenous peoples around the globe,” Stutz says.

Since April, TFON has gathered a team of over 120 Indigenous translators from over 30 countries to help make necessary and important information accessible during the pandemic. According to Yohathasan, this is the most diverse group of Indigenous translators ever to unite.

The initiative has provided several documents outlining important COVID-19 related information, including emergency signs, information for Indigenous children, general information for Indigenous elders, and recommendations for traveling to cities and populated areas. The team is also currently working on translating a “Pandemic and Nutrition” document.

TFON has translated the materials into languages including Greenlandic, Hawaiin, Yaqui, and Swahili to Isixhosa, Maya K’iche’, Tok Pisin, and Zambian sign language, to name a few.

The translated materials offer many communities hope, but not without risks. With constantly shifting information, TFON will face pressure to stay up-to-date with new discoveries and to transmit the information to translators, a task which can prove difficult.

“We speak over 70 different languages from coast to coast, many of our communities are only accessible by plane and the majority overall are remote which makes access to technology and connecting to resources a huge challenge,” said Rachelle Naomi Beswick, treasurer and acting co-president for Aboriginal Students’ Association at York.

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Deaf Missions Completes First ASL Translation for Bible

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The 38-year project from Deaf Missions will provide a valuable guide for other sign language translations of the Bible, as well as for translations of any text into the world’s 400-plus sign languages.

Deaf Missions has announced the completion of a 38-year translation project of the Bible from its original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into American Sign Language (ASL) using video. The organization had already completed the New Testament in 2004, but now the full text of both the Old and New Testaments will now be available to Deaf, ASL-communicating individuals through the Deaf Missions website or app.

“While Deaf Americans that are practicing Christians in particular have reason to celebrate, this really represents a broader win for all Deaf people and ASL communicators,” said Deaf Missions CEO, Chad Entinger. “This translation comes at a time in history when a lot is possible in terms of advancements for accommodating Deaf people. The explosion of digital technology and accessible video has allowed more Deaf people to share knowledge and communicate. Not unlike how the Bible was the first book printed on a modern printing press or the creation of the first Braille Bible in the 20th century, the availability of an ASL version of the Bible demonstrates a turning point in the culture toward normalizing sign languages.”

The pandemic has forced major limitations for the Deaf community when it comes to day-to-day routines and communications. Specifically, widespread mask wearing has created a major barrier for Deaf individuals, since facial expression is such a critical part of the language. Additionally, while video has become a primary tool in education since the pandemic hit, Deaf students have faced limitations in access, even with an interpreter present. Even in non-pandemic times, development of Sign Language translations will provide Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing people much-needed access to both religious and academic texts.

“As a Deaf translator and a Christian, this work has been an important project for me,” states Renca Dunn, communication specialist and graduate of Gallaudet University. “What I wish more people understood is that for many Deaf people in the U.S., English is our second language. It can be a challenge for Deaf individuals to connect with printed text. It’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that, for thousands of years, Deaf people have faced communication barriers and lack of access to fully understanding one of the oldest and most cherished texts of all time – the Bible. Now, translators have the framework to keep translating the Bible into other sign languages. It’s incredible, the amount of impact it may have.”

In the United States, the CDC estimates that about 1 million Americans are deaf, not including those that are very hard of hearing. At least 70% of Americans identify as Christians. Additional survey data from the American Bible Society shows that 77% of Americans live in a household that owns a Bible. However, for many Deaf individuals, their Bible was not printed in their first language.

“We will continue our work for the Deaf communities, and we hope what we do reverberates into the culture. I’d like to see an America where it’s normal to see a video created in ASL engage the Deaf Community. One where it is typical for churches to utilize videos in ASL to reach Deaf people. One where schools have equal respect for English and ASL. I would like to see a world where Deaf people truly have equal access to information and job opportunities,” said Entinger.

Deaf Missions began the translation project of the Bible from the source texts into a viewable (not printed) version in American Sign Language almost 40 years ago. Founder of Deaf Missions Duane King began the project in 1982. The completed ASLV was primarily translated by Deaf people for Deaf people, featuring 53 different translators. The ASLV will now be used as a resource text for other Bible translations into one of the 400-plus unique sign languages around the world.

Although the project was led by Deaf Missions, the efforts also received support from the American Bible Society, Deaf Bible Society, Deaf Harbor, DOOR International, Pioneer Bible Translators, The Seed Company, and Wycliffe USA.

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Welsh Language Re-included in Council during Pandemic

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After facing criticism, the city council in Denbighshire, Wales will now allow Zoom in council meetings to better serve Welsh language speakers with simultaneous translation in meetings.

After failing to provide Welsh interpretation services for meetings throughout the pandemic, a city council in Wales has set plans to reincorporate Welsh translation into future meetings. At the onset of the pandemic, an issue arose around security issues with Zoom, driving the council to use a system that does not support simultaneous translation for meetings. However, the exclusion of Welsh language services drew criticism.

Cllr Mabon ap Gwynfor, chair of the Welsh Language Steering committee on Denbighshire council, commented in a letter to fellow members that language is not a “nicety that could be put aside.” He acknowledged in the letter the unprecedented nature of the pandemic but added that the situation proved Welsh was “not a key consideration” for the council.

“We’ve not had any Welsh translation in any of our meetings since lockdown,” he said. “Other councils have held meetings with translation for many months because, when they looked at the technology and planned for meetings, it was an essential requirement.”

A Denbighshire council spokesman said that due to concerns about security, the meetings had used the in-house video conferencing platform, which lacks the capacity to provide Welsh translation. However, with the many security improvements on Zoom, along with the app’s simultaneous translation capabilities, the council would employ Zoom for all future council meetings.

“The council is integrating Zoom with its existing council chamber conferencing system, which includes simultaneous interpretation and webcasting,” the spokesman said. “Denbighshire’s solution will provide a permanent bilingual, hybrid meeting system that will meet the Welsh Government’s expected legislative changes next year. It is anticipated that the hybrid meetings installation will have been completed in early October and subject to satisfactory testing may be available for conducting bilingual public meetings later in the month.”

Hybrid meetings, where some members attend via video conferencing software and others in person in the council chamber, are currently only legal due to emergency legislation brought in because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many councils are now preparing for a permanent change in legislation next year, which would see local authorities able to hold hybrid gatherings. Some councils believe the move will boost attendance at meetings and increase engagement with the public.

“It seems that here in Denbighshire it was felt that it was either not a consideration when planning for meetings or was deemed nonessential,” said Cllr ap Gwynfor, adding that he is “far more comfortable” expressing himself in Welsh, which is also the first language of his wife and four children too. He added, “It’s the language I dream in, I think in, and live my life through. It’s not acceptable that our language has been dismissed.”

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Russia Orders Translation of Vital Records

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Any registry records in Russia dating back to 1926 will be included in the translation of vital records, particularly from Arabic, Tatar, and Old Mongolian languages.

Russia has plans for a project that will digitalize and translate all the Russian public’s vital records dating back to 1926. Investing around 1.7 billion rubles ($22 million) into the project, the team will translate documents from several languages, including Arabic, Tatar, and Old Mongolian languages, according to the draft of a decree by the Ministers Cabinet.

“In a number of Russian constituent entities, there are civil status records drawn up in languages other than Russian (national, foreign). In this regard, to convert these civil status records into an electronic document, their preliminary translation into Russian is required,” the statement said. “The draft order provides for the clarification of the volume of budgetary allocations allocated to the Russian Ministry of Finance from the reserve fund in 2020, taking into account its increase by 1.75 billion rubles,” the draft states.

According to the document, the registry office contains numerous documents that need translation, including those listed above. “The indicated civil status records can be translated by specialist translators with professional knowledge of the relevant foreign language,” it says.

The calculation of the required additional volume of funding is based on the average cost of translation services for one act entry, approved by the Russian Ministry of Justice. According to the draft decree, translators will work with any records “drawn up on paper and stored in the registry office since 1926.” Accounting for factors like the historical significance of the documents, the special regime, and the terms of document storage, the translator cost to the registry office is also included in the funding.

Earlier this year, the Deputy Head of the Federal Tax Service, Vitaly Kolesnikov, said that the Unified State Register of Civil Status Acts would be the basis of the federal register being created, containing information about the population of the country. One of the provisions of the acts is that a “unified state register is kept in Russian. In case of inclusion according to the Federal law ‘About Acts of Civil Status’ in certificates on state registration of acts of civil status of data in state language of the subject of the Russian Federation the specified data also join in the Unified state register.”

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