The Growing Pains Of Diversity And A Possible Solution

The Growing Pains Of Diversity And A Possible Solution

This post is not really about diversity. It is about the granular challenges around governance in an increasingly complex world, and operational solutions which may work going forward.

We look at three events which took place in this week. What the problem is, and what a solution might be. These events are:

Trump Administration’s Deregulation Drive Begins to Impact Language Industry

US federal regulations have generally favored the language services industry. In part, due to accessibility regulation, there is legislation which requires government entities to provide services in many different languages.

From the July 3, 2019 article, a judge commenting on the changes said, “What if you have an individual that speaks an indigenous language and has no education and is completely illiterate? You think showing them a video is going to completely inform them of their rights? How are they supposed to ask questions of the judge?”

The counter comment to this was provided by a Justice Department official saying the shift was due to, “part of an effort to be good stewards of (the department’s) limited resources”.

Realistically, these are both really good points. What are you going to do?

Sometimes Lost In Translation, With Dialects Context Is Key

In far away Bangkok, deputy leader of the Future Forward Party (FFP), Kunthida Rungruengkiat, was criticised after she put forward a proposal to allow lawmakers to speak in their regional dialects in the chamber.

The Growing Pains Of Diversity: Kunthida Rungruengkiat
The Growing Pains Of Diversity: Kunthida Rungruengkiat

Here is the interesting part, “Proponents lauded her call for preserving cultural and linguistic diversity, while at the same time, critics said her proposal was unrealistic and out of context”.

Then there was more excitement, the House Speaker Chuan Leekpai, opted for the middle ground. “Northern, Isan, Southern and Central Thai dialects are beautiful in their own ways,” he said. “However, I plead with members to use the Central form, or dialects that are comprehensible to everyone, as otherwise the sessions will be difficult to understand.”

The key take away here is, much like the above, these are both really good viewpoints. Honestly, what are you going to do?

Translating verdicts will help all litigants

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of India took notice of the challenge, and “announced that all its judgements will be translated to six regional languages and will be uploaded on the court’s website by the end of July”

From the article, there are three main upsides to here:

  • Increase awareness of laws specific to folks from rural on backward (read: low literacy) areas of India.
  • Will benefit litigants from rural areas, "… many litigants come from rural areas. If the service and information are given to them in their language, they will feel more comfortable and satisfied. It is better than hearing it from someone else".
  • Will benefit lawyers who do not necessarily practice in English, “Only a few lawyers study or practice in metropolitan cities, where English is taught from the primary levels. Many aspiring lawyers study or practise in other districts where English isn’t the primary language and this move will help them.”

But why are they not arguing like the above two cases?

This is the main takeaway, “Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has given his nod for a translation software developed by an ‘in-house’ electronic software wing.”

They have a solution. This is why there is no argument.

The growing pains of diversity. What are you going to do about it?

Our viewpoint on this is simple. We could get into arguments about which viewpoint is correct, but this is not so useful.

The basic points are:

  • We want to offer people access to services in the language they are most familiar with - mostly because it leads to better outcomes when stakeholders understand what is going on.
  • Its really expensive to offer people access to services in their own languages - mostly because operationally, this is hard.

A possible solution

We have AI. Lets use it. We can translate audio, video, images, and text. However, this has been around for a while, but is not really used - why?

Our product is specifically designed to translate nested data structures. If you are translating a video, you also want to translate the title, description and other metadata specific to the social channel you are delivering content to - the point of the entire exercise is for multi-lingual SEO/SEM

The problem is a chicken-egg problem. If stakeholders cannot find the answers they are looking for in their own language, the enormous expense of translation does not translate (possibly a terrible pun) into ROI.

What are you going to do about it? Check out an accessibility specific solution here.


Technology is offering us ways to look at old problems with new eyes. Fixing the operational problems will fix the politics. Mostly, its hard work, and we should do the work.

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