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How the Language Services Industry Gives Back

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As John F. Kennedy once said, "for of those to whom much is given, much is required." The language services industry has certainly been given plenty in 2010 -- it grew at a rate of more than 13 percent, at a time when many sectors suffered. In a context of economic uncertainty, these fortunate companies are in a unique position to make a positive impact on the world through charitable giving. In the spirit of the holiday season, here are some of the ways that translation and interpreting providers have shared the wealth and given back to those less fortunate in 2010:

Fighting against disease. Translation companies supported various health-related causes, such as donating to the United Cerebral Palsy Association (Biro 2000), raising money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (CETRA), sponsoring employees in races to eradicate brain tumors (Acclaro), and volunteering for organizations that provide services for individuals with mental disabilities (GWK). Language service providers also volunteered for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (Healthcare Language Services), translated information for Talk about Curing Autism (Global Language Solutions), and donated to various charities, such as the St. Thomas Lupus Trust (LTC), and National Autistic Society (Xerox).

Giving a lift to children. Several language service suppliers supported children by donating translation services to the Children's Inn at the National Institute for Health (Schreiber Translations), Whole Child International (Global Language Solutions), and Operation Smile (Verbatim Solutions). Other companies donated items to orphanages (Exprimo) and provided long-term care and job training for orphans in China through the Children Are Us Foundation (Lionbridge).

Boosting education. Interpreting and translation firms are staunch supporters of education. They funded scholarships for education in translation and interpreting (Interpro, Language Service Associates, VITS). They also raised or donated funds to schools (ETNOtrend, TranslationSmart). And, they helped young people understand the benefits of learning a second language and working in the translation industry (thebigword, Language Connect, TransAction Translators).

Helping with disaster recovery. Translation entities gave away free translation and interpreting services for victims of severe flooding (Biro 2000, P&L Translations, Tennessee Association of Medical Interpreters and Translators). Language groups also helped provide language services to disaster victims in Haiti (ALTA Language Services, Hermes Traducciones, International Medical Interpreters Association, Language Line Services, LifeLinks, Pacific Interpreters, T-System, Transparent Language, Transperfect) and donated to earthquake relief (Northwest Interpreters).

Serving and rebuilding impoverished communities. Companies in the language industry tend to have a global view. They donated books and other items to a village in West Africa (Anzu Global), funded non-profits that conduct operations for patients with severe health issues in Africa (Hermes Traducciones) allocated funds toward building a bridge in a remote area of Nepal (SDL Foundation), and translating for rural communities (Translationary).

Supporting spiritual and environmental causes. Some providers also sought to give to religious organizations, by translating a website for a Nepalese Buddhist Foundation (EQHO) and translating information for a local Catholic church (Ocean Translations). Others focused on the environment, having their employees join forces to clean polluted river banks (All Correct Language Solutions) and helping to finance reforestation projects in various countries (TradOnline).

Donating language services and technology. Many companies donate free translation and interpreting services to groups that stand for causes they believe in, such as Bullying Canada (Accents Language Solutions), Special Olympics Europe (Lionbridge, MAGIT), the Ronald McDonald House (Same Day Translations), NGO Plan Spain (Tara-Lenguas), the Well Project (Lionbridge), Twestival Global (Virtual Words ), and multiple causes (Assointerpreti, Globalme, the Language Lab), One company donated videophones to facilitate communication with the deaf (Significan't).

Opening their wallets. Some companies gave money to local food pantries (Language Solutions), local health care and dental service providers for underserved communities (Metaphrasis), refugee and immigrant health care charities (Multi-Languages Corporation), and micro-lending site Kiva (PB Translations). One company established a "linguist of the year" award, allowing the winner to donate a cash prize to a charity of their choosing (HTT).

Developing and delivering training. Language service providers also gave back in the form of providing free training on diverse topics, such as vocational training for disadvantaged workers (SeproTec Multilingual Solutions), interpreting and violence against women (In Every Language), intercultural communication (Well Translated), disaster preparedness for interpreters (CETRA), and interpreting for victims of torture (Cross-Cultural Communications).

As if these examples of ways to give back aren't enough, numerous language service providers joined forces to support Translators without Borders (Acrolinx, Andia, Rubric, RIGI Localization Solutions, MultiLingual Computing, Lionbridge, Medilingua, ProZ, Milengo). Founded by Lexcelera (Eurotext Group), the organization has saved humanitarian groups more than US$2 million since its establishment in 1993. Another important industry initiative is the Rosetta Foundation, (Welocalize, Multilingual Computing, PROMT, ONTRAM), which seeks to make information available to people from all over the world, regardless of language.

While there's still plenty to be done in order to truly eliminate language barriers and make goods and services available to those in need of them, these companies' cumulative actions go a long way in addressing those shortfalls.