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A language service that reduces language barriers and enables access to information, optimizing the delivery of safe and equitable care.

Provincial Language Services provides translation services in more than 50 languages, including American Sign Language, to service and programs BC health authorities on a fee-for-service basis. 

The translation is the rendering of written language.  The messaging in the translated material (target language) matches the messaging of the original material (source language). 

What we do
Why Provincial Language Services translation services? 
  • We use only qualified translators to deliver accurately translated documents.
  • We provide a comprehensive, full-scope translation service. 
  • We are an experienced, multilingual team with industry experience.
  • We translate written content into over 50 languages for print, web or video. 

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Full-scope translation service
We produce accurately written documents and website translations. We ensure our products are culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate.

Services we provide:
  • Translation and editing
  • Revision and review of translated documents
  • Consultation with bilingual content matter experts
  • Multilingual page layout, graphic design and typesetting
  • Page formatting
  • Proofreading and copyediting
  • Focus group testing of documents in the community, pre- and post-translation
  • Voiceover, narration, subtitling and transcription of audio-visual media materials
  • Website translation

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Experienced multilingual team
Our seasoned project management team works with more than 50 language and multimedia experts, including: 
  • Professional translators
  • Editors
  • Reviewers
  • Proofreaders
  • Graphic designers
  • Desktop publishing specialists
  • Voice-over talents
  • Subject-matter experts

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Languages translated
Request a quote

1Identify potential community to reach

  1. Analyze available language statistics, e.g. census and settlement stats, requested interpreter languages per facility or geographic area.
  2. Note that communities with a higher number of members tend to have access to more resources than smaller communities. These communities should be considered.
  3. Documents should be translated into American Sign Language as there is a lack of accessible information for this community.
  4. Canadian official languages should always be considered for translation.
  5. For identified language, consider if written material is a good choice for the intended audience. Do they have reading skills in their native language? Is the native language mainly an oral language? Do they prefer other methods of communication?
    • Determine potential languages for translation

2Identify topic

  1. Review general metrics related to patient uptake of English patient education materials
  2. Use an epidemiological approach to determine health impacts on language groups, e.g. toxic drug crisis impacting French-speaking African community or high prevalence of diabetes in Punjabi community.

    • Based on uptake metrics and language community health needs, determine a topic to address

3Identify document

  1. Choose documents for translations by considering the available budget and resources.
  2. Review existing resources within the Health Authorities to avoid duplicating existing translations.
    • Avoid duplicate resources

4Preparing document for translation

  1. Consider working with the author of existing resources to adapt/update the material.
  2. Avoid unnecessary translation costs by 
    1. Determining whether the same messaging can be conveyed using pictures rather than words or a combination of both, thereby minimizing the number of words that require translation (think Ikea furniture assembly instructions). If so, create a visual document.
    2. Making sure the document is finalized. Only documents in their final published state should be translated to ensure consistent messaging in source and target documents.
  • Ensure high quality, current and exact information.
  • Make documents more accessible for a variety of language groups.

5Send to Provincial Language Services Translation Services

6Publish and disseminate translated documents

Publish any new translated resources on patient-facing platforms (websites, social media channels, etc.).

Tips & best practice

Tips for translation-ready documents

  • Be clear and concise. Do not leave room for misinterpretation.
  • Use the active voice.
  • Avoid long sentences with complicated structures.
  • Avoid expression and slang. Slang is difficult to translate and understand in a foreign context. 
  • To avoid confusion, write out abbreviations and acronyms the first time they are used in the document.

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Best practice for machine translation tools

Many apps and programs are intended to support communication with patients with low English proficiency. Effective communication with patients is extremely important. However, these electronic and digital tools are not recommended for use within the health care setting. While some of these tools may seem helpful for communicating very simple messages, they can be risky.

All available machine translation or interpreting devices that are currently available pose a risk of misinterpretation. While misinterpretation can also occur with human-to-human interpreting, machine translation does not include the same opportunities for clarification that human-to-human language rendering provides.

Here are some questions that will also help you think about how a specific tool might be helpful or harmful in your work:

  • Are there positive reviews in the literature from users of this tool? Are any negative impacts of using the tool described?
  • Do you have sufficient information about how/when the tool should be used to be safe and effective?
  • Was the tool developed in consultation with, or at least tested by, those who would use it in a healthcare setting?
  • Was the tool reviewed by language and communication experts?
  • Does the tool protect patient confidentiality as per the PHSA Privacy and Confidentiality Policy (PDF)?
  • Do the images and functions included in the tool seem culturally appropriate for the patient?
  • Does the tool address any issues for which consent is needed? Professional interpreters should always be used when discussing issues that need consent with patients with low English proficiency.
  • Are you confident that the tool uses the appropriate dialect, tone and language for your patient?
  • Does the tool seem to be sufficiently patient-centred, rather than solely allowing the care provider to receive some of the information they want?
  • Does the tool transfer any information directly into a patient's chart? This should never occur—all information input into a chart should be reviewed by a human for accuracy.

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Guidelines for Translation

Provincial Language Services created the Guidelines for Translation. In addition to providing practical information about translation services, these guidelines also describe a proven approach to determining if the translation is required, choosing the appropriate documents and the language to translate.
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