In late February at a press briefing, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) addressed concerns and answered questions about novel coronavirus (or COVID-19). CDC spokesperson Benjamin Haynes stated that it’s not a matter of “if” the new virus will see community spread throughout the United States, but “when.”
And indeed he was correct.
The U.S. has seen over 3,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the last few weeks, with over 60 confirmed deaths. Public health officials in most states have declared a state of emergency and are scrambling to control the outbreak.
But while the CDC and our nation’s healthcare community work to stop this pandemic, non-English speakers risk getting lost in the shuffle.
If your organization interacts with the public, especially in the healthcare sector, there’s a good chance limited English proficient (LEP) individuals are among your customers. This means that, when preparing your communication strategy, it’s important to ensure LEP individuals also have equal access to information and resources related to the virus.
Luckily, you don’t have to start from scratch. Lots of public institutions are sharing their translated materials. This is in the hopes that vital information can be circulated to all, regardless of time or budget constraints.
We’ve collected credible resources for you below; we’ll keep these updated as we learn of new ones. Feel free to contact us if you spot any that would be helpful to others.
Multilingual Resources about Coronavirus
While some of these documents have an educational slant, there are plenty that can be used broadly across industries. Scroll down to the “FAQs and fact sheets” section for fact sheets about coronavirus in dozens of languages.
This fact sheet, currently translated into 15 languages, includes basic information on how the virus spreads, an overview of the symptoms, and steps individuals can take on how to prevent the spread of germs.
Gallaudet University is the premier educational institution for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. The university has a dedicated web page to alert students about the virus. They also have a separate resources page with videos about the coronavirus in American Sign Language (ASL). The videos cover what the virus is, proper handwashing techniques, and myths and facts, all in ASL.
WASCLA created a folder on their Tools for Health resources page specifically for spoken, written, and signed resources. They’ll be updating this page as information flows in.
The CDC does have translated information and materials on their site, but for COVID-19, it’s limited to Chinese Simplified for now. The CDC also has a dedicated Spanish Twitter account with up-to-date, credible information.
MDH has released a basic overview of the disease in 10 languages, including ASL and Somali.
Oregon Public Broadcasting released a helpful glossary covering terms you’ll see in the news or in interpreting sessions.
CCHI has a general resources page for the virus, including information translated into other languages.
The IRC has translated information on what to do if you feel sick and general guidance on the virus.
According to the site, “The following communication tools are designed to help communication around COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Materials are available, or in development, for (1) Rohingya refugees, (2) host communities living in Cox’s Bazar and (3) the general population in Bangladesh.”
Not only is Switchboard thorough, but they’re also resourceful. They’ve hunted down translated information upon request in their comment section in Nuer, Pashto, Burmese, Kinyarwanda, Swahili, and Haitian Creole. Hit them up if you’re looking for something!
An initiative started by Harvard medical student Pooja Chandrashekar, the COVID-19 Health Literacy Project has translated evidenced-based information about coronavirus into over 30 languages so far, including Tamil, Malay, and Urdu.
Specifically created for children under the age of seven, COVIBOOK helps explain COVID-19 in a way that resonates with little ones. The book is translated into 24 languages, including Hebrew, Japanese, Serbian, and Hungarian.
The ELP sourced information from governments, NGOs, and public health organizations to create this document with resources in 260 languages.
Scams abound, even during a global crisis. The FTC has consumer tips on sniffing out a scam translated into Korean, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog.
Remote Interpreters Can Help
Translated materials are a good start, but it’s not all you can you do to protect customers, employees, and the public from unnecessary exposure. It’s a good idea to have a more robust plan to assist LEP individuals in times of public health crises.
If you haven’t already, team up with a language services company. Remote, on-demand interpreting services can help reduce the spread of infection by limiting exposure to people who are sick. This is crucial in healthcare environments. Telephone interpreting and video remote interpreting (VRI) are both excellent options and safe alternatives to in-person interpreters in most situations. And you can sign up with most interpreting companies, like CLI, quickly.
In addition, if your organization has internal on-site interpreters, now’s the time to consider setting them up to provide virtual interpreting services from a safe distance so you can reserve the protective gear for frontline providers who need it most. This allows your LEP patients and providers to still communicate face-to-face with your interpreters while maintaining social distancing recommendations.
Talk with us today about adding your staff interpreters to CLI’s VRI platform.
You can also follow CLI’s coronavirus response to keep up-to-date on the measures our company is taking to ensure you’ll have continuous access to interpreters.
Updated May 12, 2020