Dimitris Glezos

US Industries See Extreme Value in Multilingual Digital Content

A few months ago, we published a blog about the Affordable Care Act and language requirements that highlighted how recent changes to legislation require health care providers to give multilingual patients access to resources (i.e. pamphlets and online digital content) in the patient’s native language. Providing a multilingual staff or someone who can act as a translator to ensure effective communication between patients and medical professionals is another requirement for a number of healthcare providers in the state of California.

Since then, we’ve seen other US industries, most notably government and tourism, start to implement multilingual websites and other resources for a number reasons ranging from increasing engagement to providing a better user experience. We’re sharing some of our observations in today’s post, and if you know of any other industries that are starting to publish content in other languages, let us know in the comments section!

New York

With more than 49% of New York City residents speaking a language other than English at home, New York is the definition of a multilingual city. To provide these diverse residents with equal access to city services regardless of their background, the City Council recently passed a bill that will require government websites to have a tool that translates the site’s content from English into the city’s six most commonly spoken languages – Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Italian, and Haitian Creole. The city hopes to engage its residents, resulting in a more educated population.

New Orleans

The city of New Orleans is known to have a diverse population, but following Hurricane Katrina, the population mix shifted, with the city becoming home to a strong Latino community whose labor played a huge role in rebuilding homes and businesses. In an effort to include these new residents and give back to their community, many of whom are immigrants, Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell is pushing for a more inclusive,multilingual set of city services that provides protection and gives access to residents of all backgrounds. So far, an electronic directory has been installed in the City Hall lobby, listing all the departments in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese, emergency preparedness information can be found on the city website in the aforementioned languages, and translation services have been set up for translating public meetings and information on the 311 info hotline. More than 40 city employees also offer their contribution, volunteering as translators to cover more than 18 languages. For the city, this is a small step on the path toward a more unified community.

Houston

The Texas Medical Center, located in Houston, claims to be the largest medical center in the world with more than 55 associated organizations ranging from hospitals and research institutions to medical and pharmacy schools. In addition to attracting patients from the United States, the center treats a large number of international visitors with many coming from Mexico and Saudi-Arabia. Referred to as medical tourists, these patients often bring their families, lease apartments and hotel rooms, and stay in the Houston area for surgery, treatment, and follow-up care. And with a majority being cash-paying customers, hospitals and the local economy benefit directly. Currently, the center has no unified advertising or marketing campaign across all of its organizations, but many hospitals are currently marketing individually with websites in English, Spanish, and even Arabic. Over time, the center hopes to create a joint strategy that will drive medical tourism to the center as well as the city of Houston.

Milwaukee

Last month, VISIT Milwaukee launched a list of the area’s major attractions in ten languages on its tourism website. The languages, selected based on research and interactions with international visitors and foreign press, include German, Spanish, French, Canadian French, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Polish. This translated list of local attractions is part of a larger effort to reach out to foreign visitors and increase the international exposure of Milwaukee. The city hopes to expand upon this initial phase, eventually translating online information, marketing materials, and printed collateral. Milwaukee hopes to make VISIT Milwaukee a site that residents and visitors can access no matter their cultural background.

Minneapolis

Minneapolis, home of Mall of America (the largest mall in the United States) attracts American visitors as well as visitors from around the world. The state reports that in addition to Mall of America’s retail sales, the state of Minnesota has earned an estimated $12 billion in additional sales thanks to international tourism. With numbers like this, it was a no-brainer for the mall to translate a series of their web pages to make it easier for tourists to access information on shopping, attractions, and dining services. These pages, now available in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese, were translated by native speakers, taking into account cultural preferences by highlighting specific brands that appeal most to each nationality. With more tourists being able to access information about the site, the mall and the state hope to drive more international visitors for both business and leisure.

Language translation remains one of the best ways to reach a diverse population, and American cities are starting to see how multilingual content can make information more accessible, create a unified population, and grow user base. If you’re employed in one of these sectors are are simply looking to translate your digital content, visit our website at www.transifex.com to learn more about the translation and localization process and join the many cities who are reaching individuals of all ethnicities and backgrounds.

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