How to Provide Compliant Professional Translation and Localization

September 21, 2023
How to Provide Compliant Professional Translation and Localization

Information access plays a foundational role in business compliance. Apart from regional mandates, access to information promotes transparency and accountability in businesses. This effectively allows their stakeholders to trust their chosen providers and to make better informed decisions. This is especially true for more marginalized individuals such as those having disabilities and non-native speakers.

Translation companies (much like their clients) are also businesses at the end of the day. In this article, we are to take an over on how businesses keep their compliance with policies that pertain to information access.

Regulatory Bodies for Business Compliance through Translation

Businesses operating globally and producing translated assets such as websites, product documentation, contracts, and marketing materials must comply with the regulatory standards of their target countries. While no single global entity oversees these translations, the regulations are typically industry-specific and depend on the content's nature. Moreover, in terms of accessibility, it's crucial for businesses to adhere to international, regional, and national standards related to the accessibility of digital content – not only bridging language gaps, but also catering for individuals with disabilities.  

Translating for People with Disabilities

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is a set of guidelines meant to ensure websites and web applications are accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities. While WCAG is not a regulatory body per se, its standards have been adopted and endorsed by many governments and organizations globally. 

Here are some language related criteria set forth by WCAG:

3.1.1 Language of Page (Level A): The default human language of each web page can be programmatically determined.

3.1.2 Language of Parts (Level AA): The human language of each passage or phrase in the content can be programmatically determined except for proper names, technical terms, words of indeterminate language, and words or phrases that have become part of the vernacular of the immediately surrounding text.

To meet these criteria, websites should:

  • Specify the default language of the web page using appropriate HTML attributes.

  • Indicate changes in language for content portions using the appropriate attributes.

In the US, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act parallels this regulation. Said act mandates federal agencies and local businesses must make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Entities must make both the original and translated content user-friendly by: 

  • optimizing websites for assistive technologies

  • offering text alternatives for visuals

  • providing subtitles or sign language for multimedia in multiple languages.

Protecting the Rights of Global Audiences

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a significant regulatory standard in the European Union and has been adapted by many jurisdictions worldwide. It ensures that companies respect and protect personal data. While primarily a data protection regulation, GDPR emphasizes the right to be informed, which entails that all information, including translated content that should be presented in clear and plain language. 

READ MORE: Why should businesses translate their user agreements?

Aside from compliance to specific regulations above, are translation companies held to a specific or general standard?

As acknowledged earlier, Language Service Providers (LSPs) – much like their clients – are also businesses at the end of the day. LSPs also have goals, challenges, and a bottom line to consider. And just like other businesses, LSPs also have a handful of ethical and legal considerations to satisfy.

For such organizations, securing respective ISO-certifications for their translation services is an imperative. Such accreditations highlight their dedication to precision and excellence. ISO 17100:2015 outlines comprehensive requirements for the translation process, ensuring top-tier translation quality. Concurrently, ISO 18587:2017 sets the standards for post-editing machine translation outputs.

Apart from these standards, organizations must also navigate other compliance dimensions. This includes adhering to legal and regulatory standards in fields like finance, law, and medicine – where inaccuracies can result in significant repercussions. Additionally, technical compliance is a means (particularly for digital content) to guarantee that translation services are utilized by every stakeholder to their fullest.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the complexities of business compliance in the realm of translation is paramount. As businesses go global, ensuring information accessibility for all is not just a legal requirement but a cornerstone of ethical responsibility. Whether adhering to international guidelines, navigating the nuances of local cultures, or safeguarding data, accurate translations are non-negotiable.

Language service providers play a critical role in bridging these gaps, underlining the importance of partnering with reliable entities. Ready to prioritize comprehensive and compliant translation? Reach out to us today to ensure your business stays ahead in this globalized world.

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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