Platform developed for Translators without Borders now available to corporate members 11

After delivering over 25 million words, the translation center used by TWB is now being offered for use by corporate members in their own work

TWB translation center

“ built and maintains the ‘translation center’ platform for the humanitarian organization Translators without Borders.”

Created as a Humanitarian Tool, then Improved Organically

In the days following the Haiti earthquake of 2010, we at, together with many others in the industry, tried to help in any way we could. The Paris-based organization Translators without Borders had been overwhelmed by an unprecedented number of volunteers (many of them members). TwB requested that we create something to help them process applications. In response we built a screening tool, and it proved useful enough that TwB decided to standardize on it.

That screening center helped right away, but it began to be clear that the manual approach to project management that the organization had been using (i.e. email) was going to limit its ability to scale. We were asked (and inspired!) to do more to streamline operations. One-by-one, in response to requests from Translators without Borders, we added features that enabled them to automate all aspects of their processes: translator sourcing, client communications, and so on were improved.

Now, five years later, the platform that we built — what Translators without Borders calls their “Translation Center” — is somewhat mature. A single Translators without Borders project manager can now handle about ten times as much work as was possible before.

The “Translation Center” is Now Available for Use by Corporate Members

While the objectives of Translators without Borders may differ in some ways from those of translation companies, operational procedures may in some cases be quite similar. Basically, like TwB, a translation company receives work from clients, passes that work along to translators or translator teams, they do the job, and the work gets delivered. There is some form of quality control and ideally, feedback, and the various parties — clients, project managers and translators — are able to communicate as necessary and appropriate at each stage of the workflow.

Given that, it occurred to use that the translation center platform might be useful to others.

Since we built the translation center from scratch for Translators without Borders, and now we have it, we are able to allow others to use it. Given that it is fairly mature, we felt we would be able to do that without incurring a great deal of additional expense. We decided to make the platform available to corporate members of at no charge.

This translation center is not a comprehensive TMS system, but a tool that enables companies to efficiently route work to translators with whom they already have a relationship. One person described it as a “messaging bus”. It does a bit more than that (files can be moved, for example), but that is the basic idea. It has a nice interface and good communications features, project managers and translators, and optionally clients, can all be in one place, and all the information around a given job is centralized. The platform also integrates with profiles. And with the help of some beta testers, we have added some of the accounting features, etc., that companies require (but TwB never needed.)

This platform can save time and hassle for companies that are doing a lot of emailing back and forth with clients and translators. It can be even more useful for translation companies that put clients and translators into direct contact and communication. To describe more about it…

A “White Label” Design

A key concern in the design was that, even though the translation center was powered by, Translators without Borders is the real force behind the whole operation and the organization’s identity had to be carefully preserved.

To this end, a “white label” philosophy was followed in the design of the platform in such a way that all players or visitors to any instance of the translation center will see the name, logo and colors of the organization managing it, thus preserving their corporate image. White labeling means that the whole operation will be perceived by all actors as an integral part of the managing organization.

Management of Translators

The managing organization will invite their trusted translators to the translation center, where individual information can be stored on language pairs, fields of expertise, rates and any other data, in the form of administrative messages. Files can be attached to such messages (for example a signed NDA).

Messages can be exchanged with the translator through the platform, and they will be stored and associated with the translator’s profile, thus avoiding the hassle of sending and tracking emails.

The translation center can support the operation with in-house or freelance translators, or with a mixture of both categories.

Job posters can provide feedback to each task when a job is completed, entering a comment and selecting among the following options:

  • Excellent: Surpassed expectations
  • Good: In line with expectations
  • Satisfactory: Below expectations but usable
  • Unacceptable: Not usable

Average and detailed feedback for each translator is visible to the administrators, and a notification is sent to the support email each time a feedback is posted in any of the two lower levels above.

Work Orders and Jobs

The translation from one source into many target languages is supported by a work order / job / task structure, where

  • A work order (W.O.) is the common section, including source and reference files, deadline, field of expertise required, notes and special instructions, etc.
  • A job is the application of a work order to a defined target language, so a W.O. can include several jobs into different target languages.
  • A task is an individual file offered to the volunteers for translation. A job can include several tasks, both independently added by the client and as the result of the splitting by the PM of larger source files.

Jobs can be posted directly by clients, as is the case with Translators without Borders. This could be useful also for large agencies that need a way of effectively handling many small document that can’t be refused because they come from large clients, but that are processed at a loss because of the heavy overhead of their complex workflow.

An agency will most probably have their own PMs posting jobs on behalf of clients. Client identity and associated documents will still be present in the translation center, but the isolation between clients and translators will be preserved.

Basic Workflow

A project manager from the translation company will post a work order with at least one job. Reference files such as glossaries, translation memories or style guides can be added as reference to a job, or to all jobs of a given client.

Release of notifications to translators can be automatic, or manually handled by the PM. With automatic operation the notifications are sent out in batches, inviting translators to a job posting page, where they can evaluate the tasks offered and eventually accept one or more of them. The first notified translator who accepts a task will receive the assignment. Once all tasks have been accepted or manually assigned by the PM, a job is no longer available to other interested translators.

In a job page the translators with tasks assigned, the PM and the client (if given access to the page) will be able to communicate and to exchange files. All information stored in a single page, no need to send emails or keep track of files.

Translators will upload their translations to the same job page. Once all tasks in a job have been delivered, the job is complete and deliverables can be downloaded by the client or by a PM acting on their behalf.

Editing tasks can be added in the same page once the translations have been delivered, and they are assigned and delivered just like a translation task.

Automatic notifications are sent to the translator and the PM when a task is behind schedule. PMs are also notified when a task has not been accepted 48 hours after being offered to translators.

You are Kindly Invited to Try this Tool

If you routinely outsource translation work, we invite you to experiment with this platform, and to use it within your company if it suits your business. If after trying it out you find you have questions or feature requests, we would be happy to hear from you. You can contact me at enrique at proz dot com.

Translators without Borders: one million words posted so far in 2012 4

The humanitarian organizations operating with Translators without Borders posted for translation 282,918 words in April and a total of 1,005,281 words during the first 4 months of 2012. This represents a 52% increase with respect to the 663K words received during the first 4 month of 2011.

A heartfelt thank you to the worthy volunteers that make these achievements possible! Most volunteers belong to the ProZian community and some 40% of them are part of Certified PRO Network.

Great feedback from the World Health Organization for two Translators without Borders’ volunteers 11

Some time ago Médecins du Monde posted in Translators without Borderstranslation center the translation request of a Psychological First Aid manual from English into Spanish. The translation was performed by ProZian volunteers Marisa Condurso de Nohara and Certified PRO member Juan Gaviria and it receive the following feedback from Médecins du Monde’s representative Alejandra Garcia Paton:

“Dear all, I am glad to report that the translation of the guide on Psychological first Aid has received congratulations from the experts who reviewed the text and who are currently performing the style correction. The reviews were so positive that the area dealing with emergencies in the World Health Organization, through the Organización Panameña de Salud, has decided to edit it and publish it as an official document. Doctors of the World will be included in the credits and thanks section of the guide and therefore, as we are aware that this was possible only through your collaboration, we have asked the inclusion in the guide of the names of all the volunteer translators who performed this job. ”

Congratulations to Marisa and Juan, and to the many excellent professionals who donated 2.5 millions translated words to humanitarian NGOs through Translators without Borders during 2011. Leaving a positive trace in the world is possible!

The Make-A-Wish Foundation® International designates Translators without Borders as “volunteer of the year 2010 2011” 1

Translators without Borders is an independent non-profit association established in 1993, dedicated to helping NGOs extend their humanitarian work by providing free, professional translations. The funds saved through the use of volunteer translations can then be used by the NGOs in the field, enabling them to extend the scope and reach of their humanitarian work.

With a pool of 900 carefully screened volunteers working from a dedicated translation center powered by, Translators without Borders has delivered so far in 2011 almost 2.5 million donated words in 57 language pairs for more than 50 humanitarian organizations.

Translators without Borders is contributing to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the largest wish-granting organization in the world that can be found in over 36 countries on five continents. With the help of generous donors and over 30,000 volunteers, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has granted more than 250,000 wishes worldwide since inception.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation® International has designated Translators without Borders as their as “volunteer of the year 2010 2011” with the following message from Avril Lee, their Affiliate Relations Manager:

Please accept the attached certificate on behalf of all the wonderful translators at TWB! Thank you for your great commitment! With much appreciation and warmest wishes for this Christmas season!

Many thanks to the volunteers who make Translation without Borders possible and to the Make-A-Wish Foundation® International for this act of kindness!

Kind regards,
Enrique Cavalitto
Translators without Borders Translations coordinator

A new badge for translators without borders Reply

Translators without Borders is an independent non-profit association established in 1993, dedicated to helping NGOs extend their humanitarian work by providing free, professional translations. The funds saved through the use of volunteer translations can then be used by the NGOs in the field, enabling them to extend the scope and reach of their humanitarian work.

A platform originally designed by to assist Translators without Borders with screening volunteer translators following the disaster in Haiti last year has evolved into an efficient online translation center in which NGOs served by Translators without Borders can post requests for translation, and willing translators can accept and deliver the work on a pro bono basis.

Use of the new platform– and of course the professionalism and the good will of the volunteers– has enabled Translators without Borders to donate more than a million translated words in the first half of 2011.

In the words of Lori Thicke, Translators without Borders co-founder: “Thanks to the community of professional translators who support Translators without Borders, millions of words of translations are being donated each year to worthy organizations such as Medecins sans frontières, Handicap International, Action Against Hunger, and many many more. This contribution is significant because every dollar saved is another dollar that can be spent caring for people in the field.

Now a badge has been created for the volunteers who act as translators without borders as a form of acknowledgment and appreciation for their generous contributions. This badge is displayed in their translation center profile and it displays the name of the translator and the amount of words delivered so far for Translators without Borders through the platform since January 2011. It is visible only if this amount of words is larger than zero.

Badge owners can also click on their own badge to copy the code for use in other places such as their profile, personal web page, profile in a social network, a discussion forum, etc. The badge will automatically update itself wherever it is placed as the number of words translated changes. There is an option to add a link to your profile, so the badge displayed on other sites will also lead to your profile and thus become a more powerful marketing tool.

The code needed may be different depending where the personal badge will be placed, therefore three versions are offered: HTML code, BB code and a direct URL. Feel free to submit a support request if you need help to display your personal badge in a web page.

If you are interested in volunteering for Translators without Borders you should visit the corresponding registration page and provide all the necessary information in English.

Translators without Borders has a strict screening process. However, since the members of the Certified PRO Network have already been screened against similar criteria, Translators without Borders has agreed to waive this process for members of the CPN. If you are a Certified PRO and want to become a translator without borders, please submit a support request .

Quoting Lori Thicke again:

What I love about the ProZ badge is that it’s a way for the volunteer translators to get recognition for their contribution to humanitarian work around the globe.

We can see the number of words a translator has completed right on the badge, automatically updated in real time. The contributions truly are significant, and are making a big impact. We speak to aid groups every day who share with us how much Translators without Borders helps them in their work.

So I just want to pass on a big thank you to all the ‘translators without borders’!”

The Translators without Borders Translation Center delivers its first file into Swahili 4

The first file translated into Swahili in the Translators without Borders Translation Center was delivered today.

This file, traslated by TwB volunteer and member Judith Prince, is part of the “Translating for life in Africa” project.

The purpose of this project, launched by the Association for Health Information and Libraries in Africa – Kenya Chapter (AHILA), is to save lives by creating a ‘library’ of basic healthcare information translated into several African languages.

People who live in rural communities in Africa have particularly fragile health because of factors such as HIV AIDS, malnutrition, lack of access to clean drinking water and tropical diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and cholera. A general shortage of doctors and nurses as well as the distance to travel to government hospitals mean that most healthcare is dispensed by community health workers.

While English literacy is high among city dwellers and well-educated professionals such as doctors, in the rural areas English skills are extremely limited. Community health workers may or may not have a good understanding of English, yet their training and their field manuals tend to be in English. Inadequate access to information is just one more burden for the rural poor in Africa to bear.

Translators without Borders needs more volunteer translators in the English to Swahili language pair in order to continue translating for life in Africa. If you are interested in volunteering please contact us by means of the “Send email” link in our profile.

New platform for outsourcing translation projects first made available to Translators Without Borders Reply

A new and improved platform has been made available by for jobs posted by Translators Without Borders, an independent, non-profit association that since 1993 has been providing free, professional translations to humanitarian NGOs, enabling them to spend the saved funds in their field operations.

This new platform displays Translators Without Borders’ look and feel and has several new features such as the possibility of uploading supporting material files when creating a new work order. These files are optionally provided to support the work; they do not need to be delivered or translated. Examples include glossaries, translation memories, dictionaries, templates, etc.

When a project is posted, this platform identifies the pool of translators who are enabled for the assignment, rank them in accordance with a predefined criterion and notify them in batches separated by fixed delays. Default values are batches of 5 translators separated by 15-minute delays, but both parameters are configurable.

These notifications include a link to a page dedicated to the job, with optional descriptions of the client, the project and the job, plus the file to be translated and any special instructions provided when posting the job. The translator can review the offered file and all the information and decide to accept it or not.

When one of the notified translators accepts the job, it immediately becomes unavailable to all other translators and no further notifications are sent out.

This interface includes a communications feature for the exchange of messages (with notifications) between the translator and the job poster, and also a feature to deliver the translated file once the job is completed.

New features will be added soon. They will for instance enable NGOs the direct posting of their projects in the platform and support the roles of project manager and editor.

In the near future this platform will be made available to translation outsourcers to offer a low-overhear workflow tool to process their translation jobs. If you outsource translation work and are interested in having access to this tool please contact staff by submitting a support request.

GoodPlanet’s webpage localized into 20 languages by Translators Without Borders volunteers!

As reported on March 28 the NGO GoodPlanet asked Translators Without Borders for help to localize their new website into as many languages as possible beyond English, French and Spanish (which were already available).

In that post it was reported the localization of that page into 13 languages: Italian, Slovak, Romanian, Polish, Hungarian, Turkish, Persian, Greek, Russian, German, Swedish, Arabic and Simplified Chinese.

Now 7 more languages have been delivered, taking the total to 20 languages and oven 180K translated words. These new languages and the corresponding credits are:

  • Slovenian: Vito Smolej joined Sabine Winter and Jana Novomeska in the rank of single translators who produced the localization of the whole website into their native languages.
  • Indonesian: the localization was done by a strong trio: Meidy Maringka, Jamina Yap and Trias Noverdi .
  • Portuguese: the localization was performed by five colleagues: Thais P., Fernanda RochaTais Faulkner , Thaiane Assumpção and Ana P Carvalho.
  • Dutch: The localization was performed by a team formed by Roel Verschueren, Iris ShalevEsther van der Wal , Marcel Palmen and one other translator who asked to remain anonymous.
  • Serbian: The job was done by Ivan Vatovic, Miomira Brankovic and Danijela Pejcic .
  • Croatian: The team that localized the web page into Croatian included Andreja Ciković, Martina Culin Jadranka Popović Tumpa, Iva Halbauer and the Crotext Team.
  • Japanese: The job was done by Yoshiko Bedillion and Michiko Kobayashi.
  • GoodPlanet has granted permission to all of the translators who participated in this project to use a part of the translations they performed as sample translations in their portfolios.

    In addition, translators who participate in any project handled by Translators Without Borders are kindly invited to enter the relevant projects in the project history section of their profiles and these projects will be validated by Translators Without Borders (send request to ).

    There is still room for translation into additional languages, and some additional volunteers would be more than welcome in several of the pairs where localization is still in progress. Source language is English or French.

    Any members of the Certified PRO Network who are willing to collaborate with Translations Without Borders in general, and with GoodPlanet in particular, are welcome to contact Translators Without Borders via their profile at

    For those interested in forming part of the Certified PRO Network, please visit