Tag: translators without borders

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KoBo Inc, TWB Develop ASR to Engage Vulnerable Groups

Technology

First modeling languages in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, TWB and KoBo Inc will capture the voices of speakers of marginalized groups to develop language technology and data management tools for these groups.

Translators without Borders (TWB) and KoBo Inc. plan to develop automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology to aid humanitarians in the collection of data from speakers of marginalized languages in low-literacy contexts. Funded by the Cisco Foundation, the initiative will contribute to TWB’s ongoing mission to develop language technology for people with low literacy and KoBo’s mission to provide accessible and effective tools for humanitarian data collection and management.

Integrating ASR and speech-to-text mechanisms with a data collection and management tool, the collaborative initiative will enable humanitarians to engage people and conduct assessment on matters like the coronavirus, access to food and water, and what languages they speak and understand.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic restricting mobility yet calling for broader language services, humanitarians have struggled to engage with groups living in vulnerable situations. TWB hopes the tool will mitigate some of the difficulties they have faced these past few months.

“We must listen to the voices of people that have historically been marginalized due to the languages they speak,” says Grace Tang, Gamayun program manager at TWB. “This collaboration with Cisco and KoBo Inc. is urgently needed and will help ensure voice recognition technology is a key part of communicating with speakers of marginalized languages and with those who have lower literacy levels, especially during COVID-19.”

Beginning with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, TWB will first model languages like French and Congolese Swahili for the ASR technology. The group plans to collaborate with local researchers to gather a wide range of voices for a collection of basic words. KoBo Inc will the integrate the speech into KoboToolbox, a free and open source suite of tools for field data collection.

“This technology – used responsibly – will ensure that humanitarians process what people are telling them on the ground more effectively” says Kobo co-founder Patrick Vinck. “Feedback from communities is too often ‘lost in translation’ and does not lead to operational changes in humanitarian action.”

The project builds on a successful pilot project funded by the Cisco Foundation, which developed machine translation and open-source language datasets in six additional languages. “The Cisco Foundation is excited to support this scalable, technology-driven initiative that makes sure even the most vulnerable people are heard during the COVID-19 crisis,” says Erin Connor, the Critical Human Needs portfolio manager at the Cisco Foundation. “This new collaboration between TWB and KoBo Toolbox unites two technologies that, together, will help humanitarians better understand the needs of people who speak marginalized languages.”

The project also adds to TWB’s efforts to support speakers of marginalized languages, translating millions of words of COVID-19 information as well as creating a multilingual COVID-19 glossary. TWB has also joined TICO-19, a coalition of academic institutions and industry partners like Amazon, Appen, and Translated to make crisis-related content available through machine translation (MT) models.

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The Importance of Translated Public Health Information Comes Home

Language in the News

Spotted these notices in the arrivals area at Dublin Airport as I returned from abroad. The information is about the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease. These notices are in Gaeilge (Irish), English, and French, and are published by the Irish Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

Ebola health protection signs at Dublin Airport in Gaeilge, English, and French.

Ebola health protection signs at Dublin Airport in Gaeilge, English, and French.

A reminder that we live in a globalized world, sure. Not that disease ever respected national boundaries.

But, it’s also a reminder of the importance of translated public health information.

In this case the information was translated by the state, but there are plenty of places and situations worldwide where translated information is not, or cannot be, done that way for the local audience. So, you help deliver important translated public information by contributing to Translators Without Borders (@TranslatorsWB)or by seeking some other way to use your translation skills, or some of your hard earned money, for humane causes.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Take that #TWBPledge for @TranslatorsWB Just Like @RenatoBeninatto

Language in Business, Language Industry News and Events

Here’s an opportunity for you to support a great cause through some healthy best practices. Why not follow Moravia‘s Renato Beninatto‘s (@renatobeninatto) example and pledge financial support to Translators Without Borders (@TranslatorsWB) using your next fitness workout? Here’s Renato in his new cycling gear, sponsored by Global textware, to tell you more about the Donate a Workout campaign.

Renato tells us about the fine work Translators Without Borders does and how you can support it.

Renato tells us about the fine work Translators Without Borders does around the world and how you can support this great cause and stay heathy too!

Track your pledge using the Twitter hashtag .

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Icons: Global UX Considerations Revisited and Translators without Borders

Localization Culture, Personalization and Design

I previously raised the issue of how context of use influences our perceptions of icons, and how globalization “best practices” and guidance about icons and graphics that we read on the web sometimes discounts context to the detriment of user experience.

One great example is the use of the Facebook Like icon.

Facebook 'Like' Button. A Thumbs Up to Global Cultural Design Considerations?

Facebook ‘Like’ Button. A Thumbs Up to Global Cultural Design Considerations?

Usually, we would be told to run a mile from body parts like this from a global design perspective, although the use of a thumbs up or thumbs down icon is frequently encountered in social media applications to indicate positive or negative user reactions to a subject.

Now, research from the Oracle Applications User Experience team, presented at the Oracle Usability Advisory Board meeting in Europe recently, confirms that use of the thumbs up and down icon, and some emotions (smileys to indicate happy or sad emotions) not traditionally associated with enterprise applications design, is acceptable to the vast majority of users, worldwide.

The pervasive, global use of the Internet and social media applications (Facebook in particular I would guess) and the nature of work and enterprise applications use (English as a language of business, globalization and outsourcing of work, multilingual operations, less distinction between personal and work life and technology, and so on) have influenced this acceptance.

You can probably think of other icons that might now be acceptable in places that a few years ago would not have been. Find the comments…

That said, the message from the research is clear: Don’t make assumptions about users or global markets. Research and test with real users in real situations doing real tasks. And do it again… and again… and again…. in real target markets, globally. It’s not hard.

On a related note, I love these clean water icons by way of the Noun Project (@nounproject).

Latrine clean water icon from The Noun Project Iconathon.

Latrine clean water icon from The Noun Project Iconathon. Image referenced from Flickr.

An excellent example of iconic context of use, they remind us of the importance of being able to clearly communicate development-related and health-critical information to those who need it, and volunteering where you can to make life better for everyone.

On that point, why not do something extra nice for Christmas, or the season that’s in it if you prefer, and support the Translators without Borders program.

Happy Christmas all!

Update (18-Oct-2013): The research informing the findings on the “Like” icon and others is now published as a chapter in a book on human-computer interaction (HCI).

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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