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Language(s): Translation, interpretation, closed captioning

When it comes to translation, interpretation, closed captioning and global online convenings and events held in multiple languages with hundreds of participants in different time zones, here are some lessons learned from APC experience:

  • Consider having your translators and interpreters on board as soon as you design your program and have most of the documents ready. The purpose of this is to introduce them to the event, goals, terminology, acronyms, etc. in advance.
  • Some material will have to be translated in advance (schedule, Read me, consent forms, etc.). Make sure you compile and deliver the material as early as possible to your translators.
  • Send your interpreters and captioners a manual that guides them through the technical side of the process on the chosen platform, as well as the main contact information on requesting tech support in general and during the session in particular, and lastly, the main synchronous, real time, communication channel of the tech support team.
  • Your choice of platform will determine if automatic and/or manual closed captioning is possible during your online event. Bear in mind that many tools have automatic option of closed captioning, however, it is not adjusted to multiple languages and accent diversity.
  • If your online event will be conducted in 2 or more languages, your choice of platform will also decide if consecutive or simultaneous interpretation is possible in one or different audio and/or video channels.
  • The pace of your session will determine the speed of translation, interpretation and close-caption delivery. Consider adjusting the pace of the conversations given the languages used and your participant’s needs. A slightly slower pace of the session would suit your participants better if 2-3 languages are spoken. This particularly applies if the language used in not a shared native language for all participants. Also consider that some of your participants might have difficulties with hearing, vision or focus and everyone would benefit from a slower pace of the session.



“From APC Member convening 2020: Walk the talk, from privilege and power to solidarity - languages”

Members and staff in the APC network speak and use many languages and whenever it is possible we try to ensure that together with the “default” English, we have interpretation at least for Spanish and French – occasionally we have been able to include Arabic. We are aware that the use of “bridge” languages such as English, Spanish and French are inherently rooted in colonialism and in modern world imperialism. This is a fact.

We know that as such they are also a barrier to participation and engagement for anyone that does not feel confident or comfortable in expressing her/him/themselves in one of these languages. We recognise also the technical constraints and costs related to interpretation, and as a global organisation we are more and more invested in advocacy with funders to make them aware and understanding of the critical relevance to include interpretation as a way to expand participation and move away from a model that makes languages a barrier to participation.

To walk the talk, we provided interpretation in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese for plenaries as well as captioning so that reading the text can support hearing the voice.