Poor Translation and Technical Snafus Plague Spanish Version of Healthcare.gov *
As customers accessing the federal government’s healthcare portal, healthcare.gov, finally see positive improvements in the online enrollment process, the Spanish version of the website, CuidadoDeSalud.gov, is undergoing its own unique set of problems.
According to the Associated Press, typos, confusing sentence structure, grammatical errors and non-working links are causing confusion and frustration for Spanish speaking healthcare consumers attempting to navigate CuidadoDeSalud.gov.
The awkward, difficult-to-understand sentences are so full of grammatical mistakes that critics have concluded they must have been done through computer-generated translation, rather than through the use of “live” translators who are fluent in the nuances of the Spanish language.
Adding to the frustration, when users clicked on links that compared insurance plans, they were taken to the English version of the comparisons.
Far from being the consumer-friendly site government officials hoped for, the problem-plagued CuidadoDeSalud.gov has most likely hindered Spanish-speaking consumers from signing up for healthcare. New Mexico has the nation’s highest percentage of Latino residents, yet in October and November, fewer than 1,000 Latinos signed up for coverage. Other states with high Spanish-speaking populations experienced disappointing numbers as well. Approximately 15 million Hispanics are uninsured, and their participation is crucial to the success of Obamacare. However, unless the problems with CuidadoDeSalud.gov are addressed, Spanish-speaking individuals will continue to lag behind in their attempts to enroll in health insurance.
The problems with CuidadoDeSalud.gov underscore the critical importance of providing translation that is accurate, grammar-free, culturally appropriate and fully understandable by the target audience. This is accomplished by employing skilled translators, not by using machine or computer-generated translation. Using computer-generated translation typically results in documents that are difficult to read and understand. Using “real” translators – people who are translators by trade, fluent in both English and the target language and experts in linguistic nuances – are always a better choice, especially when the stakes are as high as they are with CuidadoDeSalud.gov.
Choosing an organization such as Avantpage ensures that your translated documents are flawlessly presented in your target language. Reading level, comprehension, cultural differences and shades of meaning are all taken into account. As a result, your translated materials read as if they were produced in the target language, enabling your audience to comprehend and understand information more easily.
* This blog entry is based on information gleaned from an article written by Russell Contreras and Kelli Kennedy of The Associated Press. It appeared in the Sacramento Bee on Monday, January 13, 2014 under the headline, Health Site in Spanish Falls Short.