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Top 10 Ways Language Service Providers (LSPs) Can Accelerate Language Access

Friday, August 14, 2009

  • Nataly Kelly
  • Common Sense Advisory, Inc.

Language-related legislation is constantly on the table in multilingual societies, but many language service providers (LSPs) fail to take action in support of the legislation that promotes greater access to the services they sell, ultimately helping their businesses grow. This Quick Take shares ten ways LSPs can help contribute to the successful passage and implementation of laws that require the very translation and interpreting services that they provide.
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Common Sense Advisory’s Ten Tips for Boosting Language Access

1. Link up with an advocacy group. Who has recently helped pass legislation in your country, state, province, or city? Search for a recent language access law and find out who supported it, and who is trying to promote awareness. Approach these groups to see what other efforts are currently underway, and how you can support them.

2. Translate certain content for free. Speed up language access enforcement by making individuals aware of their rights to receive language services. For example, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest has “Know Your Rights!” pamphlets available in 13 languages. Savvy LSPs, translate these types of vital awareness-spreading documents at no charge to help advocacy organizations’ efforts to spotlight the issue.

3. Help buyers save money. One of the biggest concerns that buyers have is the financial impact of new legislation. Help alleviate these tensions by finding cost-effective solutions for the affected parties. For example, in the recent settlement requiring New York pharmacies to print multilingual labels, most pharmacies are scrambling to find individual solutions. Companies like Polyglot Systems have developed solutions that could plug in to pharmacies’ existing workflows to help them address this requirement, leveraging a database of previously translated terms and phrases.

4. Showcase the benefits. Help ease the pain of new requirements for buyers by painting a positive picture and helping them understand why language access is a good thing. Language services give companies a competitive advantage. In verticals like health care, linguistically appropriate care reduces medical errors, helps improve patient safety, and even prevents public health outbreaks.

5. Give a newbie a hand. Many buyers suddenly find themselves facing legislative requirements with no prior experience in purchasing translation and interpreting services. They are likely to need a helping hand, not only to speed up the learning curve, but to understand what their supplier options are, how services are priced, and more. Take on the role of client educator, a service that will likely reward you with a greater share of business.

6. Think outside the box. Innovative programs, such as a recent translation grant offered by ViaLanguage, provide new ways for buyers to obtain language services. Develop new products and services to target the needs of those affected by legislation and anticipate the language access needs that new legislation will create to be ahead of the pack. How can your company help?

7. Join forces. Consider establishing relationships with community-based organizations, ethnic groups, other associations, and even other LSPs. With more organizations involved, the potential for distributing messages widely improves tremendously.

8. Reach out to the media. What recent cases has your business seen that can help showcase the issues addressed by legislation? Offer a case study, write a letter to the editor, or pitch a producer. The more media outreach takes place, the faster the industry will grow.

9. Spread the word. In addition to media outreach, there are many other ways you can broadcast messages about the language access initiatives you support. Promote them in your client newsletters, on your website, and in webinars. Work with other organizations to develop tip sheets for your customers.

10. Lobby for legislation. Some companies, like Language Line Services and Translation Source, have played active roles in pushing legislation forward. Granted, not every LSP has the time or money to become involved at a deep level in pressing elected officials, sitting in on committee votes, and following each and every development with a new piece of legislation. But, no matter how much time or money you have, you can still participate in lobbying efforts by supporting the groups that are already actively engaged in these efforts.

The formula is simple: more laws requiring language services equates to more business for LSPs. So, get out there and help grow your market – the piece of the pie that you already own will grow in direct proportion.

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