TICO-19 COVID Response Effort Welcomes TWB

Translators without Borders has joined TICO-19, a coalition of academic institutions and industry partners, in an effort to translate and localize urgent health-related resources and materials into languages without access to the latest information.

black android smartphone on yellow tableResponding to the worldwide shortage of translators and translated health resources during the ongoing pandemic, Translators without Borders (TWB) has partnered with several academic institutions (Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University) and industry partners (Amazon, Appen, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Translated) to form the Translation Initiative for COVID-19 (TICO-19).

Preparing emergency and crisis-related content available in nearly 90 languages so far, TWB will serve professional translators and aid in the training of state-of-the-art machine translation (MT) models. Access to content like “Translation Memories for the Translation Community,” “Translated Terminologies,” “TICO-19 Translation Benchmark” (a collection 30 documents translated from English into 36 languages), and a number of other resources will provide many regions life-saving information.

Some of the terms include more general terms like pandemic or recovery cases, but also terms related to scientific terminology like viral nucleic acid and serological analysis (an examination of blood serum). One of the phrases it collected states, “Data reported to CDC are preliminary and can be updated by health departments over time; critical data elements might be missing at the time of initial report; thus, this analysis is descriptive, and no statistical comparisons could be made.”


With countries like the United Kingdom and Australia reporting widespread lack of translation resources for some of their most at-risk communities, the TICO-19 partnership with TWB may provide some much-needed relief in the near future.

“Language technology is a powerful tool that can help people communicate more consistently, quickly, and confidently about global issues like COVID-19. Yet many languages don’t have the necessary data needed to build this innovative technology,” explains Grace Tang, TWB’s Gamayun Program Manager. “We’re excited that industry leaders recognize this gap, and are working with us to develop technology that can help everyone communicate about COVID-19, no matter what language they speak.”

A language equality initiative, Gamayun uses advanced language technology to increase language equality and improve two-way communication for marginalized languages. Joining the TICO-19 coalition will help TWB build upon the mission of Gamayun to allow everyone to give and receive information in the language and format they understand.

“We’re excited that industry leaders recognize this gap, and are working with us to develop technology that can help everyone communicate about COVID-19, no matter what language they speak.”

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