Planning for translation, whether you’re new to translation or not, takes time, energy, and resources. While planning for translation may seem like an overwhelming task, there are processes that make it easier. Creating a Language Access Plan and answering a few questions for you and your team before your next translation project can help to ensure success.

Planning for translation and your language access plan

Planning for translation includes setting up a Language Access Plan for your healthcare organization. A Language Access Plan, simply, is how you plan to approach the needs of LEP patients regarding language services. While it is legally required by federal regulations, it also presents an opportunity to ensure that you’re providing the best possible care to LEP populations.

There are four factors that you need to analyze as you move towards creating, or amending, your Language Access Plan:

  1. The number or proportion of LEP persons served/encountered in the eligible service population
  2. The frequency with which LEP persons come into contact with the program
  3. The nature and importance of the program, activity, or service provided by the program
  4. The resources available and costs to the recipient

Throughout the planning of your Language Access Plan, return to this question: “Am I providing meaningful language access to those who need it?”

What’s included in a Language Access Plan?

Your Language Access Plan should include at least three items which will help you in planning for translation. These items include:

  • The language preference collection protocols — how do you plan to collect data about preferred language for communication?
  • Provision of service to those spoken language populations in excess of 5% of the local demographic, in at least one of the following modalities: in-person interpreter, video interpreter, or telephonic interpreter. If an LEP population in your area accounts for 5% or greater than the population, how will you communicate with them verbally?
  • Provision of services to all hearing impaired and vision impaired clients without exception, at all times – what alternative format documents do you need in order to serve these populations?

When creating your Language Access Plan, it’s recommended that you begin to identify how you’ll handle document translations as well. While this isn’t a legally require part of your Language Access Plan, it is a legally required service you must provide as a healthcare organization. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What vital, standardized documents do we need to have translated in anticipation of use?
  • What plan can we create for individualized documents that need to be translated?

Most importantly, when creating your Language Access Plan, you need to be considering the languages of your population. The top 15 languages in your area are the languages you need to be translating your documents into. Any language that has a population of speakers equal to or greater than 5% you’ll need to provide interpretation services for.

Planning for translation beyond your Language Access Plan

Outside of creating your Language Access Plan, planning for translation includes a variety of other tasks. This involves asking yourself a series of questions:

  1. What language(s) do you need to be translating into?

This is key to starting your translation project correctly. You’ll need to identify the languages discussed above to ensure you’re meeting the requirements for language translation.

 2. Who is your audience, and what is their reading level?

If your audience has a low level of health literacy, you’ll need to write your content to match that. Similarly, if your audience has a low reading level on average, you’ll want to make sure your content reaches them effectively by writing it at that reading level. Planning for translation includes ensuring your document’s reading level matches that of your audience.

  3. What file type is your document? Is it editable?

The easiest files to translate are those that are directly editable. A directly editable file is any file which allows the viewer to change text, formatting, etc. Examples of these file types are Word documents, InDesign documents, Excel documents, and web pages. If your file isn’t directly editable, try to track down the original version that is editable before sending it in for translation. It’ll make the entire process much easier.

   4. What is your deadline for the completion of this project?

Timing matters! If you need a translation project turned around in 24 hours, you’ll likely incur rush fees. If you’re appropriately planning for translation, you won’t have rush fees attached to your project.

    5. How many words are in your document?

The word count of the document is what the cost of translation is based on. Translation services are charged by the word, so the longer your document is, the higher the cost will be. If you know the word count of your document, you’ll be able to get a much more specific quote from a Language Service Provider and avoid being surprised when you receive their invoice.

    6. Does this document need to be localized?

If you’re reaching out to a new market or trying to expand your organization through translation services, you may need to localize your content. Localization is the process of adapting a product or content to a specific locale or market. Translation is one of the elements of the localization process, but the process consists of several other elements as well. If you want to ensure your document will reach your new target market, localization could be a useful service for your organization.

If you dedicate time and resources to planning for translation, you’ll be much more likely to see success from your translation projects. If you want guidance on creating your Language Access Plan or planning for translation, call us at 530-750-2040 or request a free quote today.