Mitigating the Likelihood of Workplace Harassment in the Multicultural Workplace

With stories of workplace harassment dominating the news, one thing is clear: businesses of all sizes must take action to prevent being caught up in costly scandals of their own. If you think this only applies to companies in high profile industries like entertainment and tech, think again. In 2016, the EEOC recovered $164.5 million for workplace harassment claims in a host of industries across the board. Most reported harassment claims come from industries like hospitality, retail, and manufacturing. 

As awareness and open discussion of the problem grows, corporate employees will be more likely to come forward with their own workplace harassment experiences and claims.

To protect themselves (and their employees), companies must have clear policies in place, along with thorough and effective training. But today’s businesses often have multicultural, multilingual workforces, sometimes spread out over many different countries. How do you ensure everyone is on the same page to mitigate the likelihood of workplace harassment?

Here are 4 steps your company must take to keep your workplace harassment policies from getting lost in translation.

Understand the Relevant Laws

In the United States, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace harassment based on traits like race or gender. This provision may apply to the following types of employers:

  • American and American-controlled employers operating abroad.
  • Foreign employers operating inside the United States.

Additionally, there are sometimes state and local laws to contend with. These may be even more strict. And if your company has teams in other countries, you may need to account for their laws as well.

Be Aware of Cultural Differences

What is workplace harassment, anyway? Standards of appropriate behavior can vary widely across cultures. To effectively educate employees, companies must be aware of these differences. Workforce Magazine research found that “incidents of harassment in international situations were frequently resolved once employees were informed that the employees in question were offended by the behavior. ” 

Most employees will change their behavior to conform to company policies and to avoid offending their coworkers. Make sure they know what those policies are.

Make Workplace Harassment Policies Clear to All  Employees

Clear, easily understandable workplace harassment policies can help stop problems before they start. But the policies in question need to be clearly communicated to all employees, across different languages and cultures.

Language about workplace harassment is sometimes difficult to translate cross-culturally. Laws in other countries are often quite different, as well. Therefore, companies must choose their translation partners wisely.

These are complex issues, and simply translating your policies word-for-word from English is likely to lead to confusion and potential non-compliance among non-English speaking employees. At VIA, we use native-speaking linguists and subject matter experts to ensure your policies are translated correctly and will be easily understood by everyone.

Effectively Translate Training Materials

A strong workplace harassment policy is an essential first step, but it’s not enough on its own. It’s also necessary to provide training on these policies to reduce incidents of harassment and to protect your organization from liability.

In order to be effective, training must take into account language barriers and cultural differences. This is especially important for multinational organizations, but even US-based organizations with significant numbers of ESL employees may need to translate training materials.

VIA’s native-speaking instructional designers and linguists can localize your workplace harassment training materials and eLearning courses to increase their effectiveness for your target audience.

Finally, protecting your business doesn’t have to break your budget. VIA’s award-winning project management process and innovative translation technology saves time and money without compromising quality.

Want to learn more? Give us a call at 1-800-737-8481.


Legal Translation Options for an Increasingly Global Economy

As a growing number of businesses expand their market reach to compete in the global economy, the need for legal transactions that span multiple languages, cultures and legal systems has become greater than ever. Now, in addition to the multitude of competing demands already placed on legal and compliance professionals, they must also determine how best to handle these complex and challenging communication requirements.

Every legal matter is unique. Some are best suited for high-volume machine translation while others require individually translated content by in-region legal linguists. The best translation service providers offer customized litigation translation options and recommendations tailored to specific client needs.

Yet choosing one of a multitude of available language translation options can still seem daunting. What types of translation services are available? When is machine translation a viable option? And when do you need an attestation or certified document translation?

Read the full article by VIA’s Chief Operating Officer, Nic McMahon, in BC Paralegal Association Press: Legal Translation Options for an Increasingly Global Economy

Measuring Return on Translation Investment

Working with quality translators is important, but how do you measure return on investment (ROI)? It sounds simple, but it’s often more complicated than it seems. There’s not one set of metrics that will work for every business. To determine the ROI of translation for your company, first ask yourself this: How does translation help your organization meet its goals? Once you know that, you’ll know what to measure.

With that in mind, here are 3 ways to measure return on translation investment for different types of organizations.

Translation makes marketing more effective, protects your brand and increases sales.

There’s no doubt about it- if your customer base is multilingual, translation can make your marketing more effective. When you’re trying to persuade people to part with their money, it helps if you speak their language. Research shows that even people who speak English fluently as a second language prefer to shop in their native tongue. For example, even in English-friendly Europe, 9 out of 10 users prefer to visit a website in their own language.  

This is one of the most straightforward ways to measure the ROI of translation. Businesses can track metrics like new customers, increased revenue, increased traffic and market share.

Localizing your website can also increase conversions. According to Gillian Muessig of Moz, “3 times as many website readers will convert to customers if you give them information in their native language.”

An effective translation process also allows your organization to control how it’s presented in non-English speaking markets. Reaching out to customers in their own language creates goodwill, so translation has public relations benefits as well.

Translation can reduce other business costs.

Yes, good translation costs money. But it can also reduce other business costs. To accurately measure the ROI of translation for your business, consider how it can help you save money in the following areas.

Customer support

For many businesses, customer support is a major cost, but providing inadequate support is even more costly in the long run. Translation can reduce customer support costs from non-English speaking customers by ensuring they understand how your business works, answering common questions and allowing them to effectively take advantage of self-service options.


There’s no doubt about it. Compliance mistakes can be costly. If you do business in another country, there are likely to be a multitude of translation regulations you need to comply with.

In some industries, like healthcare, translation is required by law for U.S.-based businesses, too.

Employee Support and Training

Does your organization have teams in locations around the world? Do you employ significant numbers of employees who speak English as a second language? Translation can be an investment in your employees, too. Localizing your training materials and eLearning courses can improve employee morale, productivity, and avoid extra costs due to accidents or compliance issues.

At VIA, our team of translators and instructional designers can help you create courses that are easily understood across different languages and cultures. Read more about our learning services here. 

Need to Improve the ROI of Your Translation Efforts?

VIA’s combination of award-winning project management and cutting-edge translation technology saves time and money. In fact, our Memory Bank and translation memory solutions offer a 20-50% savings per project. 

To find out more, contact us today at 1-800-737-8481. We’d love to hear from you.

6 Surprising Facts About Punjabi Translation

Have you ever heard of the Punjabi language? If you’re like many Americans, the answer is probably “no.” But it’s time for that to change! Here are 6 surprising facts about the Punjabi language and Punjabi translation.

Punjabi is the 10th most widely spoken language in the world.

Around the world, 122 million people speak Punjabi as a native language. That makes it the 10th most commonly spoken native language in the world. More people speak Punjabi as their mother tongue than German, Korean or French.

Most Punjabi speakers live in India and Pakistan . . .

Punjabi is one of 22 scheduled languages in India. That means that the Indian government is obligated to protect it and ensure its continued use and development. Punjabi is also an official language in Delhi.

However, across the border in Pakistan, Punjabi lacks official recognition and support. There, Urdu and English are the only official languages, used in government and schools. Oddly enough, though, Punjabi is the most commonly spoken language in Pakistan.

But there are also sizeable communities of Punjabi speakers in the UK and Canada.

In fact, Punjabi is the 3rd most-spoken language in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, in Canada, it’s the 4th most common language, after English, French, and Mandarin. In 2015, it became the third language of the Canadian House of Commons.

In the US, Punjabi is one of the top 15 non-English languages in 4 states: California, Indiana, Mississippi, and Washington.

An important note for the healthcare industry: that means that Punjabi taglines must be provided on all critical documents to help Punjabi-speaking customers access language resources.

Punjabi is one of the few Indo-European languages with lexical tone.

In English, as well as most Indo-European languages, the tone of voice carries information like emotion or emphasis. But it doesn’t help you distinguish between one word and another. In tonal languages like Punjabi, however, tone and pitch can indicate a difference in meaning between two words that otherwise sound the same.

Punjabi can be written in different scripts.

Punjabi is also one of the few languages with digraphia, which means that it uses at least two writing systems. So, how do you know which script to use? As always, paying attention to the demographics of your audience is crucial!

Usually, Punjabi is written in one of two scripts. The Shahmukhi script is primarily used by Punjabi Muslims and in Pakistan. Meanwhile, Sikhs and Hindus favor the Gurmukhi script. The Gurumukhī script is also used in Indian offices, schools, and in the media. Occasionally, Punjabi is written in the Devanagari script (commonly used for languages like Hindi) or the Roman alphabet.

Punjabi typesetting requires special expertise.

There’s more to translating Punjabi documents than simply translating text from one language to another. Because Punjabi uses a non-Roman script, it’s more complicated than substituting one text for another. For example, both the Shahmukhi and Gurmukhi scripts require more vertical space than Latin text. So, you may need to change the layout to keep the resulting documents attractive and easy to read.

Punjabi fonts can be tricky, too. Change from one Punjabi font to another, and you might unintentionally change the characters, resulting in incorrect or gibberish translations. That’s why it’s so important to have a native-speaking translator available to help proofread the final copy.

Need Punjabi translation help?

VIA’s team of native-speaking translators is here to keep your Punjabi translations accurate, on brand, and in compliance.

Want to learn more about VIA and our award-winning translation processGive us a call at 1-800-737-8481 today.

Health Plans: Update Materials for Non-English-Speaking Populations to Meet 2018 CMS Guidelines

As you know, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued 2018 guidelines for EOC (Evidence of Coverage) and ANOC (Annual Notice of Change) earlier this year. You’ve probably already sent many of your notices to meet fall deadlines, but if you’re still creating materials to meet December 2017 deadlines (listed in Section 60.6 of Contract Year 2018 Medicare Marketing Guidelines), or you haven’t created translated versions of required marketing materials for your Limited English Proficiency (LEP) populations, VIA can help. With more than 5,000 translators and more than 15 years of healthcare experience, we have the capacity and experience to turn around high-quality healthcare translation projects to meet tight deadlines.

Review Section 60.6 of Contract Year 2018 Medicare Marketing Guidelines to ensure you are meeting the 2018 ANOC and EOC requirements, as well as the below requirements for notifying non-English Speaking Populations, as stated in section 30.5 of Contract Year 2018 Medicare Marketing Guidelines. And be sure to review guidelines specific to your own state.

Give us a call for all your translation needs at 1-800-737-8481.

30.5 Requirements Pertaining to Non-English-Speaking Populations 42 CFR 422.111(h)(1), 422.112(a)(8), 423.128(d)(1)(iii), 422.2264(e), 423.2264(e)

Plans/Part D Sponsors must make the marketing materials identified in sections 30.6, 30.7, 30.10, and the Part D Transition Letter(s) available in any language that is the primary language of at least five (5) percent of a Plan’s/Part D Sponsor’s PBP service area. Final populated translations of all marketing materials must be submitted in Health Plan Management System (HPMS) (see section 90.2 for material submission process).

Note: The enrollee ID card is excluded from this requirement.

For additional information regarding notice and tagline requirements, please refer to Appendix A and B to Part 92 of Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

eLearning Solutions Executives Will Use

Executives are busy. It’s difficult for them to devote time to new training. And taking an eLearning course may require them to use new technology, adding to the perception that it will be especially time consuming. This can make it difficult to sell them on the importance of doing so.

How do you overcome common objections to the use of eLearning?

It’s important to focus on the reason for training: to address a specific business need. From big picture strategy to tactical implementation, executives are innovators, problem-solvers, and leaders chosen precisely for their ability to provide solutions – they respond to business needs.

Executives serve as both strategic thought leaders and storytellers. Being able to tell an organization’s story is an essential quality of executive leadership. Fortune 500 companies have even created new executive positions for individuals who have a distinctive voice and the ability to communicate the unique spirit of their organizations.

The most effective executive training program directly addresses business needs while also modeling and reinforcing effective storytelling. This type of training will provide the evidence executives need to recognize the value of eLearning.

When pitching new learning for executive audiences:

  • Address challenges from a business needs perspective
  • Demonstrate the value-add of the training with tangible before and after key performance indicators
  • Provide short, modular learning units that are singular, consumable and form part of a larger story
  • Identify the target audience’s level of comfort with technology and build training that aligns
  • Use elements of strategic storytelling to outline problems and solutions, lesson learned, and a call to action
  • Suggest opportunities for practical application of the training

Training that provides relevant content in a succinct and engaging manner while also offering executives the opportunity to develop and exercise critical skills will provide the greatest value.

Want to learn more about VIA’s eLearning solutions? Give us a call at 1-800-737-8481.

ELL Compliance in Schools: Resolving 3 Common Issues

Both federal and local laws require school districts to provide translation help for English Language Learners (ELLs) and their families. Schools often struggle with ELL compliance. But they must still work to ensure that these families aren’t left behind.

Districts that don’t comply leave themselves open to costly lawsuits, and worse, ELLs struggle.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 3 common ELL compliance issues school districts can avoid.

General Access to Translation and Interpretation for ELL Families

Study after study confirms that students are more successful when their families take an active role in their education. But what happens when families, teachers and school officials don’t speak the same language?

Without access to translation and interpretation services, ELL families are at a disadvantage. Federal civil rights laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 require schools to provide equal opportunities to students without discriminating based on language and national origin.

That means that ELL families are required to have the same access to important information about their children’s education and school performance, including parent-teacher conferences, grades, school policies and disciplinary actions, as families who speak English proficiently.

Translation Services for Special Needs Students of ELL Families

In the past few years, several school districts have found themselves the target of lawsuits from groups representing ELL families with special needs children.

Family involvement is important for all children. But it’s especially important for special needs families. Most families of special needs children see themselves as advocates. It’s their job to work with the school to make sure their children get the best possible education. But they can’t do that if they don’t understand the services that are available.

It is essential that ELL families with special needs children receive access to interpreters and translated copies of all relevant documents, including individualized education plans. Otherwise they can’t ensure their children get the help they need.

Unfortunately ELL families with special needs are still not getting equal access in some schools. As a result, some districts are expending valuable resources defending themselves in court.    

Providing Access to Language Resources to All Eligible Students

It’s not enough to have ELL resources. ELL students must also have access to those resources. Refugees and other especially challenging ELL children must not be discouraged from enrolling in schools that offer the language resources they need.

Lack of compliance with laws that protect ELL students is surprisingly common. For example, in its coverage of one recent case, the Boston Globe wrote:

“[S]uch problems probably go well beyond Holyoke, noting that state education officials have faulted more than 100 school systems in recent years for failing to provide these kinds of services after reviewing student files and other documents. ” 

Achieve ELL Compliance With VIA’s Translation Services

Being out of compliance comes with a long list of undesirable consequences. There’s the possibility of lawsuits, bad publicity and even loss of funding. And ELL compliance can be complicated. Even districts with a history of diversity struggle, and districts without that history struggle even more.

VIA can help. We are a leading provider of education-industry translations. Our translators are native speakers and industry experts. Our convenient online translation portal and efficient project management process will help you translate all of the documents you need to keep ELL families informed and engaged while minimizing the impact on your budget.

Want to learn more about our award-winning translation services for schools and school districts? Give us a call at 1-800-737-8481.

Open Enrollment Outreach For LEP Communities in 2018 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period for 2018 began on Wednesday, Nov. 1. This year, the lead-up to open enrollment was fraught with uncertainty as efforts were made to repeal the law.

Although it was not repealed, the ACA continues to be impacted by reduced marketplace support. This will likely reduce the number of people who buy health insurance through the federal marketplace. Limited English Proficiency (LEP) consumers and communities will be especially hard-hit. Here’s a rundown on why these communities are especially vulnerable and what health plans can do to limit the impact on enrollment.

Open Enrollment Outreach Cut by 90%

The ACA advertising budget has been reduced significantly. This year, funds for ACA enrollment outreach are down by 90%, from $100 million to $10 million. And, while in the past the Spanish-speaking community was specifically included in outreach efforts, these efforts are also on the decline ($12 million was spent on ACA enrollment advertising in Spanish during the first several years after the ACA was implemented, which is more than the entire advertising budget this year).

Outreach in Spanish (and other commonly spoken languages) is important because studies show that people are more likely to buy products when they have access to information in their native language. That’s especially true with something like health insurance, which is expensive and complex even for native English speakers. Bilingual navigators who provide in-person help to LEP populations can help with this, but unfortunately funding for navigators has been significantly reduced as well.

Other Obstacles for LEP Communities

Beyond reductions in advertising and outreach, the enrollment period has also been significantly reduced. Last year, the open enrollment period lasted 3 months. This year, it’s only 6 weeks.

Additionally, this year the website will be offline every Sunday except one during the open enrollment period. Last year, outreach groups made a point of helping Latino families sign up on Sundays after church.

Increased concern about deportations is also likely to deter applicants who have undocumented family members.

Why LEP Communities Need the ACA Marketplace, and Why the Marketplace Needs Them

Traditionally underinsured groups like Asians and Hispanics benefited a great deal from the ACA. Between 2013 and 2015, the number of uninsured Hispanic\ Americans dropped by 9% and the number of uninsured Asian Americans dropped by 7%.

But organizations that offer marketplace plans need Latinos and other LEP groups, too.

That’s because, statistically speaking, Latino customers are more likely to be younger and healthier.

Health insurance marketplaces need as many healthy enrollees as possible to function. Like it or not, health insurance is based on the idea of pooling money and sharing costs. Ideally, healthy people contribute while they are healthy so that they have coverage when they need it. If the only people who enroll are people who are already sick, the whole system falls apart.

How Can Health Plans Increase LEP Membership Despite These Obstacles?

Health plans need more healthy sign-ups, not fewer, to make it financially feasible to keep offering plans on the exchanges. And translation is vital to these efforts. For example, did you know that 1 in 4 people who apply for coverage through the marketplace speak a language other than English at home?

But insurance companies are already pressed for time, pressed for money and have other translation requirements they are legally required to meet.

With that in mind, here are our recommendations for how health plans can maximize membership by reaching out to LEP families and communities: 

  • Translating your marketing materials has never been more important. Remember, even people who speak English as a second language often prefer to receive information in their native language. For more on how localization can improve your bottom line, check out our infographic.
  • Use translation memories, style guides and glossaries for faster, more consistent translations.
  • Get smarter with your healthcare translation budget. At VIA, our project management expertise combined with our Memory Bank™ system can help you cut costs by up to 30%. 
  • Work with community organizations to educate LEP consumers and increase enrollment.
  • Use clear, plain language for customer-facing materials. Now more than ever, you can’t rely on navigators to explain them to your customers.
  • Develop outreach plans to reach new groups of customers, and be sure to take language and culture into account when you do.
  • Make sure your taglines are prominently placed and correctly translated. See 6 Expert Tips for Compliant Healthcare Translations for examples of what can go wrong.
  • Make sure that customers have easy access to translated application documents, both in person and online. Remember, the less help they need from bilingual navigators, the better.

How VIA Can Help

VIA combines expertise in marketing, healthcare, and compliance to make it easy for your organization to communicate effectively and persuasively in any of 125 languages. Want to find out more about our healthcare translation services and our award-winning project management process?  Give us a call at 1-800-737-8481.

What is HIPAA Compliance? What You Don’t Know Can Cost You

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted in 1996. It’s been the law of the land for 20 years, and even people who don’t work in the healthcare industry are aware of its existence and purpose.

Despite all the publicity, HIPAA violations are surprisingly common. For example, according to enforcement data from the Health and Human Services (HHS) website, in 2015 alone the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) took corrective action to resolve 730 HIPAA violations. Technical assistance was provided to resolve an additional 3,820 complaints.  

A HIPAA violation happens when an organization that deals with sensitive patient health data either:

  • releases the data without authorization, or
  • fails to take all the steps HIPAA prescribes to protect that data.

Most HIPAA violations are not intentional. Often, violations happen not out of malice or willful negligence, but simply because a seemingly innocuous policy or procedure slipped through the cracks.

But when it comes to HIPAA, ignorance is definitely not bliss. Even accidental violations can lead to steep fines. 

With that in mind, here’s a brief overview that explains what HIPAA compliance is and some of the ways it can affect your organization.

HIPAA Compliance: Who Needs It?

Does your business deal with protected health information (PHI)? If so, it must be HIPAA-compliant. “Covered Entities” under HIPAA include health care providers, health plans, and health care clearinghouses.

But the need for compliance doesn’t stop there. If they deal with PHI, your Business Associates (such as your translation provider) and their subcontractors must be compliant as well. A Business Associate agreement should be on file for each business associate. The agreement should:

  • Describe how the business associate will use PHI.  
  • Require that they use HIPAA-compliant safeguards to protect sensitive data.
  • Require timely reporting of any data breaches.

And why does a company need to be HIPAA compliant? First of all, if your organization fits into any of the above categories, compliance is the law. And secondly, this law has teeth. Federal fines for HIPAA violations start at $100 (for unintentional violations) and go up to $50,000. The maximum fine is $1.5 million per violation category per year. But that maximum only applies to the Federal government. States’ Attorney Generals can get in on the action with fines of their own.

What Must Be Done to Ensure Compliance?

HIPAA aims to ensure that sensitive health information is available to patients, providers, and insurers, when needed, and kept secure the rest of the time.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule provides national standards for disclosure of protected health information. The Security Rule is meant to ensure that protected health information that is stored electronically is stored securely, and is only accessed by individuals who are authorized to view it.

To be compliant, businesses must meet HIPAA standards in the following areas:

Physical Security

Businesses must ensure that only authorized individuals can physically access PHI. For example, they must maintain secure offices and workstations. And they must craft policies and procedures to keep track of hardware that might have sensitive information stored on it.

Data Security

Businesses must have security procedures for accessing PHI. For example, the data should be encrypted. Accessing it should require unique usernames and passwords. And tracking logs should note when it was accessed, and by whom.

Data Integrity

Companies must ensure that health data can’t be changed or deleted inappropriately. IT policies and procedures for offsite backup and disaster recovery should allow patient information to be retrieved even if something goes wrong on site.

Network Security

HIPAA-compliant hosting is also required to protect sensitive data. That means the hosting company follows HIPAA-approved security protocols for sending and storing sensitive data. This requirement affects all methods of sending and receiving data, including email, the internet, and private networks.

Protect your customers and your business by seeking out a reputable company that specifically offers HIPAA-compliant hosting. And don’t use unsecured or public websites when handling your patients’ protected health information. That includes translating it into another language, by the way. 

Some big brands are struggling with this: Amazon’s Alexa is not yet HIPAA-compliant.

Breach Notification

If you do find that protected health information has made it into the wrong hands, you will need to notify both patients and HHS. Not providing breach notifications when required is also a HIPAA violation!

My organization is required to be HIPAA-compliant. What does that mean to me, and how can it affect my work?

If your organization is required to be HIPAA-compliant, be diligent about protecting patient data. Don’t access protected health information unless you need it to do your job. And pay close attention to any and all HIPAA-related training provided by your employer. Violating HIPAA can lead to hefty fines and even jail time!

How Can VIA Help?

Serving more than 400 clients in the healthcare industry, VIA is well-versed in HIPAA compliance. Our secure online VIA Translation Portal (VTP) makes it easy to submit translation requests safely, and our healthcare translation consultants will help you find solutions that keep you on-budget, on time and in compliance.

Want to learn more about how our award-winning project management process can save time and money while ensuring your organization maintains HIPAA compliance? Give us a call at 1-800-737-8481.

Healthcare Translations For Open Enrollment: What You Need to Know

Fall is officially here. And while the rest of the world is busy obsessing over all things pumpkin spice, healthcare professionals are preparing for open enrollment.

The next Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period runs from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017. And an important part of preparing for open enrollment is making sure your organization is compliant with federal language access regulations. This year, there are new requirements.

Here’s what you need to know:

Translation Requirements for Open Enrollment

Federal civil rights laws like section 1557 of the ACA and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 require healthcare organizations to provide low English proficiency individuals with access to the information they need in a language they can understand. In addition to this general requirement, there are four key requirements that exchanges, qualified health plans and web brokers registered for more than one year must meet under the ACA: 

  • First, these entities must provide oral and written translation services as needed by applicants and customers. This service must be provided at no additional cost.
  • Second, they must provide taglines on critical documents (both off- and online) to notify customers that translation services are available. Taglines must appear in the top 15 non-English languages of the state or states the organization operates in.
  • Third, these entities must translate certain web content into languages spoken by LEP groups that make up 10 percent or more of a relevant state’s population. Qualified health plans only need to translate “critical” information. However, exchanges and web brokers must translate all web content “intended for qualified individuals, applications, employers and employees, and enrollees.” For 2017, the only language this applies to is Spanish, in Texas and California.
  • Finally, health plans must provide taglines on claims, appeals, and summaries of benefits in any non-English language spoken by 10% or more of the population for any county they serve. For 2017,  that includes Spanish, Navajo (in Apache County, Arizona), Chinese (San Francisco County) and Tagalog (Aleutians East Borough and Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska).

A note about African languages:

Taglines must be provided in the top 15 non-English languages in each state. The rankings are determined by  American Community Survey language data. That sounds straightforward enough, right? But there’s a catch. Speakers of the African languages of Kru, Ibo, and Yoruba were counted together. But there’s no way to break down how many people speak each language. As a result, if you do business in a state where these languages are in the top 15, you must provide taglines for all three languages. So, you’ll actually need 17 taglines to be compliant.

Should you translate marketing materials?

Organizations are not required to translate marketing materials that are for advertising purposes only. But it still makes sense to do so. If you want to reach any audience, for any purpose, you must speak to them in a language they understand. People are more likely to make a purchase if they have access to information in their native language. That’s especially true when it comes to complex topics like healthcare.

Don’t Cut and Paste Taglines

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides sample taglines for the top 15 languages spoken in each state. It’s tempting to save money by simply cutting and pasting them into your critical documents. But don’t. Software limitations can change the way some foreign-language characters are displayed. The result? Those free taglines can turn into potentially costly gibberish!

As a best practice, utilize professional, multi-lingual desktop publishers who work in any number of file formats and platforms and also provide final quality assurance checks of the translated content. At the very least, have a fluent, native-speaking translator proofread to make sure the taglines have been translated correctly.

What About Machine Translation?

Similar to cutting and pasting taglines, using a free online machine translation service can be tempting. But even HHS has acknowledged the risks involved with machine translation, stating it is “particularly dangerous, and can lead to very serious misunderstandings and adverse consequences for medical documents.”

Additional information about HHS rules on Machine Translation can be found here along with additional tips for compliant healthcare translations.

How VIA Can Help

There’s no room for translation errors in healthcare communications, so you must choose a translation provider with extensive healthcare experience. VIA’s team of knowledgeable healthcare linguists serve more than 400 clients in the U.S. healthcare industry. Our expertise in healthcare and compliance protects your organization from costly errors and our technology and project management process saves you time and money.

Want to learn more? Give us a call at 1-800-737-8481.