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How one organisation uses the Internet to communicate better with non English speakers (03 Nov 07)

When you want everyone to understand, this simple concept may be the answer

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This month’s winner is Jaimin Patel, who runs London Borough of Newham’s Langauge Shop. He told me of an approach being tried out by Choice Homes in East London to help them provide information about their service.


It’s such a good idea that I thought I would share it with you.


Jaimin says:

“Communicating with non-English speakers is tricky and by no means easy.

Traditionally public sector service providers have relied on a combination of interpreters and translated leaflets.

Translated leaflets can be good for simple messages such as ” Here’s our service”, “This is when we are open” and “This is where you can find us”.

But one problem with leaflets is that they tend to be very hit and miss. You don’t know who has and hasn’t picked them up.

Also, they are not great for complex topics. Suppose you want to tell people about the different causes of high blood pressure and what you can do to lower it. Print has serious limitations. People may find it hard to understand and absorb this type of information.

You also need to look at how you use interpreting services. Do you use them to provide the same information repeatedly on things like how to access a service, information about opening hours or to explain a process like signing up for a tenancy agreement?

Such repetitive interpreting tasks are perfect for converting into scripts and turning into what the Language Shop calls “Talking Heads”.

A staff member can simply select the script they want and play it on a computer to a member of the public in the language they choose. This saves time and money.

Jaimin is adamant that there is no reason why you can’t develop scripts for all sorts of things

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