Federal agencies are required to provide meaningful access to government information to people with limited English proficiency. This applies to your agency’s digital content too. You need to determine how much information you need to provide in other languages, based on an assessment of your audience. The need is increasing The number of people who are not proficient in English is growing dramatically every year. According to the 2010 Census, there are approximately 25 million who speak a foreign language at home and whose English-speaking ability is at the level “less than very well.
Can you imagine how frustrating and confusing it would be to find several variations of the same agency name on different sites or even different pages or documents on the same site? This is what happens everyday to Spanish-speaking customers accessing the Spanish names of some federal agencies. They try to navigate the website to perform important tasks like applying for benefits, accessing health information, doing business over the Internet or filling out forms.
Automated translation is touted as a one click solution. But is it? From time to time, the listserv lights up with the issue of translating websites into other languages and I’ve seen the interest increase as Web managers struggle to comply with competing mandates to serve their customers. Many Web managers are tasked with installing the “magic button” solution on their websites to make them multilingual and comply with current mandates, such as Executive Order 13166 and the Justice Department’s 2011 Renewed Commitment Memo.