We know that computer translations are not quality translations. That’s why we’re committed to providing professionally translated materials concerning information vital to families and communities. Here are some things we consider when translating materials:

Is this essential information? We do not have the resources to create translated versions of all communications, but we make our best effort to inform residents, clients and patrons of important changes and basic services. We ask ourselves: Would our failure to translate this document prevent a significant portion of a community from receiving information or services from which they would benefit?

How many residents will we reach? Each translation costs not only the translator’s fee but also precious time in proofreading, coordination and design. Therefore, our highest priority are translations that communicate essential services, will be used broadly, and will not go out of date quickly.

Is there a better way? Some residents may not read in their native language. Would those residents be better served with audio, video or materials that make use of pictures? 


Oregon Society of Translators & Interpreters: This statewide network posts a list of its members and maintains members-only listserv where interpreters and translators can openly problems and brainstorm solutions.

Northwest Translators and Interpreters’ Society: The Seattle-based association provides a wealth of resources and trainings in the Northwest.

LEP.GOV: The federal government maintains a clearing house of resources on language access, including guidelines and tips for quality translations.

Translation Toolkit: Massachusetts published this guide to best practices for state health officials.


Technical tools

Online translation and interpretation services should never be used when a professional interpreter or translation can be provided. But these can be helpful tools for residents who struggle to navigate in English.


Google Translate is available both for Internet and as an application on smart phones.

Word Lens  is a phone application that sight translates written documents between English and Spanish/Russian/French/Italian/Portuguese/German.

WordReference is available both on the Internet as a smart phone application. This assists in more technical translation between languages, including slang and sector-specific terminology. It also includes an active forum that addresses nuance.


A Word on the Web

Best Practices: The Migration Policy Institute publishes a guide on 10 things to consider when developing multilingual websites.

More Best Practices: The federal government lists its own 10 tips on web design across languages.