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How translators can help stem the ebola crisis



Nov 5, 2014 11:19:00 PM / by Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen


From New Statesman

Article Excerpt: Ignorance about ebola can be as fatal as bodily contact with an infected person. The problem is that most information about how to prevent ebola is not available in the languages understood by the people at risk.

The international community has agreed that more must be done to contain ebola’s spread. Yet while people decry the shortage of funds for all the needed field hospitals and hazmat suits, there is one relatively low-cost, low-tech solution that is barely discussed: translation.


Link to the full story here.

InterpretAmerica's take: The critical role that language plays in this international crisis is well worth highlighting. This quote from the article captures that role perfectly: "Yet while people decry the shortage of funds for all the needed field hospitals and hazmat suits, there is one relatively low-cost, low-tech solution that is barely discussed: translation." In other words, language barriers represent a key challenge that must be overcome to stop the spread of the disease, yet the the industry that can provide that solution rarely comes to mind. 

This is a familiar reality for interpreters and translators across the board. The demand for multilingual communication in all forms has exploded, now that geographical barriers no longer represent a significant barrier. Yet programs, initiatives, brands, meetings, and products get planned and implemented with little thought given to the integral importance of translation and interpreting to their success. The ebola crisis is a stark example of the need for our professions to continue to raise awareness about the importance of professional, competent language services in all aspects of international exchange. InterpretAmerica was founded for this very purpose. With this post, we honor all the hardworking, dedicated langauge service professionals doing their part, mostly sight unseen, to help put an end to this devastating health crisis. 

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