According to the most recent United States Census Bureau report, the number of people who spoke a language other than English at home has nearly tripled, from around 1 in 10 to almost 1 in 5.
That means local governments in the US have a duty to provide language services to the whole population to ensure that those with limited English proficiency can understand key public and social services that will impact them.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how you can easily add foreign languages to your government website and improve the efficiency of your translation projects. Plus, look at translation accuracy and why an alternative to the Google Translate widget exists and will improve your efficiency.
Why provide language access to the communities you work in
As a government agency, adding languages to your website or providing interpretation services in person is key, and providing language assistance to those who don’t speak English as a first language is an important subject matter not to be ignored.
Respecting civil rights and ensuring the communities you serve have access to the initiatives and services you provide your local citizens is paramount to inclusivity. This can be achieved in a number of ways such as document translation, legal documents, and of course, government website translation.
As we mentioned above, the number of non-English speaking citizens in the US is rising. Even if English is widely spoken by the majority of the population being able to access information in your native language is understandably a right everyone should have.
One such community is the Hispanic population, which makes up the largest minority group in the United States and is the most common non-English language spoken at home. Clearly, most local government sites will at some point need to consider adding Spanish.
Not only is having access to information a major benefit to adding foreign languages, but it also adds a huge layer of trust to the communities you work in and ultimately improves the delivery of public services.
Further, as government agencies are provided federal funding, there’s an element of compliance involved with providing language services and website translation.
Government translation services: What to look for in a website translation solution
Translating your gov website is an important part of helping your local communities access essential information in their language. With likely thousands of words and often technical and legal terms present throughout your website copy, ensuring you have the right website translation solution to help you with the process is paramount.
Thousands of government agencies and US public sector service providers use Weglot to translate their websites with ease. However, there are several factors to consider when choosing the right translation service for your site, let’s take a quick look.
Speed and autonomy
One area that stands in the way of translating a government website is the sheer scale of the project. As a public service website, it’s normal that your website’s word count will be high, and using professional linguists might be your first port of call.
This can quickly get out of hand as the cost per word for a professional translator can start at around $0.08 and this doesn’t include the technical aspects of displaying the content.
However, as you may have seen with the Google Translate Widget there are more automated options available. And while this option (which has now been discontinued) gave you zero editing control and was riddled with errors, using a website translation software such as Weglot, allows you the opportunity to translate your website instantly and with ease.
Weglot works by detecting 100% of the words on your website, translating using a first layer of machine translation, and then giving you full editing control of the translated text displayed on your site.
These words are then automatically displayed on your site (under language subdirectories or subdomains), meaning you don’t need to rely on your IT department to help with the more technical aspects of website translation.
Long gone are the days when machine translation (MT) was plagued by the inaccuracies Google Translate used to output, in fact, MT is now considered highly accurate for dozens of language pairs.
But, naturally machine translation is always going to bring up concerns for many, and none more so than local governments when accuracy is an important part of delivering a clear message.
That’s where machine translation and human editing come into play and combining them brings a huge amount of time-saving efficiencies, not to mention a more in-control budget.
Typically using professional translation for something as extensive as website translation requires a big budget, however, when you use machine translation as a first layer you get speed and efficiency for the ultimate package.
Weglot automatically translates your website in minutes using leading neural machine translation providers including DeepL, Google Translate, and Microsoft Translator.
Then, as you’re providing translation for numerous important areas related to your local government, such as immigration services, homeland security, and healthcare to name a few, it’s important that high-quality translation is at the forefront of your translation efforts.
Weglot gives you 100% control over the translation quality and can make edits wherever needed. This leads us nicely to…
Going hand in hand with the type of translation you’ll display is how you’ll manage it. With access to professional translators, the option to add your own team of translators to your Weglot project, and simple editing options, Weglot allows you to edit and manage the translations of your gov site with ease.
Weglot’s simple interface gives you the ability to edit translations within a Translations List or through a Visual Editor, which shows a live preview of your website so you know exactly where each translation is on your site.
Being able to edit your website translations means you can conduct thorough website localization and fine-tune your translations so they can convey cultural nuances that would be seen in natively written text.
Often, when translating terms that appear on US government websites, there are a lot of repeat words, technical and legal terms. To avoid regularly editing the same content more than once, a glossary of terms is a requirement you’ll be grateful for.
Creating rules such as ”always translate” and “never translate” is easy within your Weglot Dashboard and you can choose to handle your glossary of terms inside or outside of the interface, by exporting and importing.
Compliant with US government requirements
Ensuring the translation solution you use is compliant with American public sector requirements will be something you’ll also be looking for. Weglot is based in France but can be purchased in the US through a public-sector reseller to ensure 100% compliance.
Additionally, Weglot is SOC2 Type II certified so you can be assured that we adhere to the highest data protection standards possible.
Translating your United States government website doesn’t need to be a challenge. With the right tools in place, you can carry out the project with ease, save internal resources, and importantly stay within budget for such a large-scale project.
Being able to add foreign languages to your gov site means you can better serve the communities you work within and give equal opportunities to all who seek the same information.