For those not already familiar with it, 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. Some of the supported NGOs include Médecins Sans Frontières, Zafèn, Médecins du Monde, Acting for Life, Aide et Action, the Association ASMAE, ATD Fourth World, ATD Fourth World and GoodPlanet.
The core of Translators Without Borders are the about 300 volunteer translators who donate their time, efforts and knowledge to help make the world a better place, together with doctors, nurses and other volunteers working in NGO and humanitarian associations.
Since translations related to humanitarian emergencies leave no time for review (and even less room for error), Translators Without Borders looks exclusively for experienced and solid translators able to do produce strong, professional translations.
Translators willing to volunteer with Translators Without Borders can complete an application and if the application is approved they are required to perform at least a translation test as part of the screening process.
The job interface
ProZ.com has been supporting Translators Without Borders both in the screening of their volunteer translators via the ProZ.com screening center and in the posting of translation jobs.
The current Translators Without Borders jobs interface is extremely efficient. When a job is posted, the system will identify the pool of translators who are approved for the assignment (approved into the system and with the proper language pair and, eventually, field of expertise).
This pool will then be sorted. In the case of Translators Without Borders this sorting is random in nature, because the idea is to balance the load among the volunteers, but in a commercial application other criteria would be followed, according to the preferences of the company acting as platform manager.
The system will then proceed to notify the translators in batches separated by fixed delays. In the case of Translators Without Borders, these are batches of 5 translators each, and there is a 15 minute delay between a batch of notifications and the next but both of these numbers can be controlled.
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.
A case study: localization of GoodPlanet’s web page
On February 17th, Translators Without Borders was contacted by the NGO GoodPlanet, who requested help in translating their new website into as many languages as possible beyond English, French and Spanish (which were already available).
Since the languages where Translators Without Borders is stronger were not required, a decision was made to contact members of ProZ.com’s Certified PRO Network and to ask them for help, offering to add any volunteer directly to the list of approved Translators Without Borders translators (the Certified PRO Network has a screening process similar to that used by Translators Without Borders).
The results were amazing; 38 translators volunteered and the GoodPlanet website is currently being localized into the following 15 languages: Italian, Portuguese, Arabic, German, Dutch, Romanian, Russian, Indonesian, Polish, Swedish, Turkish, Hungarian, Greek, Slovak and Japanese.
There is room for translation into additional languages. Any Certified PRO members 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 ProZ.com profile at http://www.proz.com/profile/1352791