Lost in translation

R -- Spanish Web Site Translation

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The House is seeking new technology to better reach Spanish speakers, the fastest-growing ethnic segment the U.S. population.

The Office of the Chief Administrative Officer has issued a request for information on Spanish translation services for Web site content. Most congressional offices do not have bilingual staff members.

Vendor responses are due Aug. 26.

According to the notice, officials are researching commercial human-based and machine-based foreign-language interpreter systems but require only English-to-Spanish services at this point.

The site upgrades, which have been requested by many House offices, would eliminate the need for individual lawmakers’ to hire bilingual staff, the RFI states.

Census Bureau officials report that Hispanics accounted for half of the U.S. population growth from 2003 to 2004. The bureau estimates that 41.3 million Hispanics reside in the United States, and their numbers are expected grow in the first half of the 21st century.

In 2003, the General Services Administration launched FirstGov en Espanol, a Spanish-language version of the FirstGov Web portal. It helps users locate government information without having to know which agency is likely to have that information.

The House’s translation system must be able to:

• Handle various dialects of the Spanish language.

• Update text as soon as English content is added.

• Provide offices with a pre-established level of accuracy and speed in translations.

• Translate content from Word documents, images, text files, HTML pages and audio/video files.

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