Participating as a Volunteer and Translator at the Localization Lab Event for International Translation Day

MCIS volunteers and translators at Localization Lab
Ixchel at Localization Lab event 2019

by: Ixchel Cervantes, Project Coordinator, Translation Services

On a rainy Saturday in downtown Toronto, MCIS staff, Localization Lab organizers, translators, and other participants gathered together to explore the world of Internet Accessibility and the tools that facilitate this accessibility for people all over the world, at the Mozilla office in Toronto.

As a not particularly tech-savvy person, the concept of Psiphon was foreign to me, I have never experienced myself what it was like to require access information that I was not easily able to obtain. But of course it only takes a couple minutes of watching the news to know that millions of people out there are not as lucky as we are, in terms of access to information.

Working at MCIS, I am familiar with the struggles people go through to access critical services or information in the city, which is why it was exciting to learn more about other organizations, like the Localization Lab and Psiphon, who are also doing their part in making sure more people can access the Internet. But it goes beyond that – all that information contained in that virtual space, is information that can be vital in improving their qualities of life.

Although I participated as a volunteer on behalf of MCIS, helping to ensure that participants had access to a safe space where they can contribute to Internet accessibility, I also wore the translator badge and was able to get hands on during the process of localizing Psiphon, an internet censorship circumvention tool used all over the world.

Professionally, as a translator, it was interesting to work on a localization platform, in this case Transifex. Sure, I am used to the regular CAT tools and our lovely Plunet system, but seeing Transifex at work was very eye-opening to all those tools available out there that I think a lot of translators might not be familiar with.

We might think of localization as something to reach a smaller or a specialized audience, but seeing Transifex at work, it made me realize how, by localizing, we are actually opening doors. I might not be the direct beneficiary from the localization of a website into Arabic or Mapuche, but by having the website localized to that audience, it can trigger an effect much more significant than we can imagine.

Here is a video summary of the event:

For more resources on digital language activism:
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/oct/08/spread-word-iraqis-translating-internet-into-arabic
https://rising.globalvoices.org/indigenous-language-digital-activism/