Translating the Census

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The 2011 Census will have you fill out forms and maybe even digging through cupboards. Sounds pretty straightforward right? With good organisation and 30 minutes of your time, you should be just fine. Oh no… Do you speak a language other than English? French? German? Italian? No panic guys, for every problem, there is always a solution! Take a look at how K International helped bridge the diversity of the UK…

Translating the Census

Everything started when the Office for National Statistics (ONS) knocked on our door back in 2007, we were very excited to hear what they wanted from us. As you can guess, the discussion was all about the Census and the services that we could provide to help in making this project as enjoyable as possible for everyone in the country.

Before any major event, there are always several rehearsals and the census is no exception. First, we translated, proofread and typeset the original questionnaire in the 20 languages the ONS identified the most important in order for them to see if they were happy with our process and results. 2008 was around the corner but we managed to “stress test” the process again with more languages this time, you know what they say, the more, the better. 🙂

Finally, in 2009 came the “dress rehearsal”! Same as trying your wedding gown before walking down the aisle, you want your dress to be immaculate, with no stain or hole on it. With this goal in mind, we translated the Census questionnaire again with some information leaflet and multilingual language cards on top of the cake, everything in 33 different languages. 100,000 lucky homes were selected to take part in the test…

Working with the ONS

Because you are more likely to win the battle with more men on the field, the ONS guys in charge of the project worked in close partnership with us joining our ideas, knowledge and competencies together. There is no one way street at K, so each week, we hosted a conference call with the guys to make sure we were on the same page about their requirements and expectations. A Language Guide Book was also put together and sent to the ONS team to explain everything they needed to know about translation, languages and the whole process. Once this was done, it was time for us to deploy our troops, 112 translators and proofreaders, 4 designers, 8 project managers and 2 account managers worked on the project.

Testing the Translations

After days and days of waiting impatiently wishing for the time to go as fast as the light speed, the Big Day is finally here. I mean, not exactly because it’s going to be in March 2011 but after 4 years of work, sweat and tests, 2010 seems like a pretty big year for us. Similar to the year before, we translated all the Census material but in 56 languages this time! I let you imagine the whole process behind this performance… Few more challenges later, we are finally ready.

Easyread and Audio formats

Usually, for your birthday, you invite all your family and friends including your Grandma, brother, cousins, uncles…I mean you invite everybody, right? Well, the Census is like the ONS guys’ birthday where they request the whole country to send them cards for this special event. They don’t want anybody to be left over, so they make sure each household, family, the person receives their message in the right format in order for everyone to be able to send back their birthday card. That’s exactly why we created Easyread and Audio formats of the Census content available on the ONS website and other online platforms. Because each one of us has the right to be invited to the party, we produced Easyread format for the information leaflet in English and Welsh and audio formats in 10 different languages. Get your pens ready.

Hiding behind the curtains, we are waiting for the show to start in March 2011. Translators, proofreaders, designers, project or account managers, we are all impatient to see the results of our 4 years work and partnership with the ONS guys. Only the future will tell… but in any case, it has been a challenge that everybody enjoyed.