DRAFT - ICANN Language Services Policy and Procedures


Comment/Reply Periods (*)Important Information Links
Comment Open:18 May 2012
Comment Close:2 July 2012
Close Time (UTC):23:59 UTCPublic Comment Announcement
Reply Open:3 July 2012To Submit Your Comments (Forum)
Reply Close:1 August 2012View Comments Submitted
Close Time (UTC):23:59 UTCReport of Public Comments
Brief Overview
Originating Organization:ICANN Communications Department
Categories/Tags:Policy Processes; Transparency/Accountability; Reviews/Improvements; Participation; Events/Conferences
Purpose (Brief):ICANN is opening a public comment forum for the draft Language Services Policy and Procedures. Community members are asked to provide feedback on the proposed document. ICANN Language Services provides support for translation, simultaneous interpretation, teleconference interpretation, transcription (of recorded sessions) and RTT (real-time-transcription, also known as scribing).
Current Status:Draft ICANN Language Services Policy and Procedures open for public comment.
Next Steps:

Comments will be accepted in this forum and in continued interaction with the community and staff. Once the comment and reply periods have ended, ICANN will review community feedback and post an assessment of comments received.

The Board Committee on Public Participation will then submit the policy to the ICANN Board with its recommendation.

Staff Contact:Christina M. RodriguezEmail:christina.rodriguez@icann.org
Detailed Information
Section I: Description, Explanation, and Purpose

The provision of language services is intended to facilitate access to ICANN and participation in its work for those who do not speak or are not fluent in English.

The cost-effective provision of high quality multilingual services has two main objectives:

  • Make information about ICANN and its work accessible to those who speak languages other than English in ways that enhance participation in and the effectiveness of the multistakeholder model.
  • Make ICANN more effective as a global organization.

ICANN's language services include:

  • Translation
  • Simultaneous interpretation
  • Teleconference interpretation
  • Transcription (of recorded sessions)
  • Scribing (Real Time Transcription - RTT)

ICANN's working language is English. Its policy is to provide translation and interpretation in the six United Nations languages – currently Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), English, French, Russian and Spanish – where appropriate and taking account of budget constraints.

Section II: Background
Multilingualism is essential for a global multistakeholder organization. Meetings, documents and information must be accessible in a variety of languages. To address this need, ICANN submitted a previous version of this document (then called "Translation Programme") for public comment in March 2008, and in December 2008 contracted with a localization and language industry expert (a full-time translation coordinator). This complied with the Accountability and Transparency Framework and Principles, and laid the path toward more effective engagement with stakeholders.
Section III: Document and Resource Links
DRAFT – ICANN Language Services Policy and Procedures [PDF, 349 KB]
Section IV: Additional Information


(*) Comments submitted after the posted Close Date/Time are not guaranteed to be considered in any final summary, analysis, reporting, or decision-making that takes place once this period lapses.


Please click here to download a copy of the PDF below.

Initial Draft for proposed ALAC comment to this PC.

PLEASE USE the Comments  Section below to respond  to and propose any edits to the following text.

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The ALAC and At-Large Community of ICANN, has long been a champion for the needs analysis and effective use of interpretation and translation services by ICANN and should be considered ( we believe) as a 'extensive or 'power user' / client of these services as an integral part of our routine ICANN internal and At-Large outreach activities. We further note that recommendation #9 as outlined in the Final Report of the ALAC Review Working Group on ALAC Improvements (9 June 2009). is specific  " ...9. ICANN should strengthen its translation and interpretation processes"  (page 6) and that there were further recommendations were made relating to 'translation services' / tools :-

 (from page 18 of the Report and in support of Recommendation 22 of the independent Consultants 2008 Westlake Report ) Translation and interpretation
The WG strongly supports the need for efficient, effective translation and
interpretation processes in ICANN. At least as much as any other group in
the ICANN community, efficient, effective translation is critical to the
success of the ALAC. The translation system needs to be far more reliable
than it is at present. Establishing clear accountabilities (including some
form of Service Level Agreement) with staff and contractors is crucial if
higher standards are to be developed and maintained.
The WG recommends that the Board ask staff to review the efficiency and
effectiveness of current translation practices with a view to implementing
better translation processes and increasing funding to provide a wider
range of translation services. This is an area where ICANN should strive
for continuous improvement.

ALAC appreciates the considerable work that has clearly gone into the preparation and presentation of the DRAFT – ICANN Language Services Policy and Procedures under current public review, as a next step in the evolution of these essential services to a Global Multi-stakeholder Organisations from the then pivotal work of 2008 which resulted in the 'Translation Program' ; as well as the opportunity to make some substantive comments upon this Draft of an ICANN's Language Services Policy and Procedures.

Firstly the ALAC and At-Large agree with ICANN's provision of a cost-effective provision (though we do hold great interest in being involved in the establishment of the ROI measures for this) of high quality multilingual services with the objectives to:

• Make information about ICANN and its work accessible to those who speak languages other than English in ways that enhance participation in and the effectiveness of the multistakeholder model.
• Make ICANN more effective as a global organization.


We also appreciate the full gamete of  ICANN's language services being identified as now including:

• Translation
• Simultaneous interpretation
• Teleconference interpretation
• Transcription (of recoded sessions)
• Scribing (Real Time Transcription - RTT)

All of which our community makes extensive and continuing use of ( although at this stage RTT use is limited  to ICANN public meetings we do see a developing opportunity for its use regionally and in our outreach and education programs) 

ALAC and At-Large support the stated goal of the 'Language Service Policy (LSP) to provide us with "...high quality, consistent, timely and cost-effective services, reflecting current usage of technical terms by native speakers." ;  as well as the longer term vision to offer by end 2015:

"...translation and interpretation, either automatically or on request:
• in the six official United Nations languages. Criteria for granting exceptions (either to provide additional of fewer translations) will be explicitly spelled out.1
• for all core documentation, main public meeting sessions, and select Supporting Organization and Advisory Committee conference calls.
• in five abridged versions of the English website, focusing on the core elements.

Noting that our community will no doubt be one that  from time to time and specific to stated purpose requests ADDITIONAL  languages beyond the 6  official UN ones (e.g. need for Portuguese text in documents used in parts of our LACRALO area etc.,) 

And we most certainly endorse ICANN creating a "...a comprehensive quality control process and adoption, where appropriate, of best practices..." 

Recently ALAC and At-Large activities have specifically benefited from the  improvements in the provision of Language Services (LS) as outlined in the LSP that have resulted in a considerable improvement (and associated gain in our productivity and better policy development work practices) in both quality and efficiency but we could add CONSISTENCY to the list of recent improvements and benefits.

 Specific to Translation:

We also  recognize the current limitations of electronic tools and technologies available for our use, but do wish to insist that ICANN must keep a close watching brief (and perhaps even develop tools or be a 'beta tester') for improvements in this arena; and we do endorse the proposal to develop and conduct  "...a multilingualism awareness program for current and new staff. Board members, staff and community members will sometimes be asked to help monitor the quality of translations. A translation management system allows language service providers to access previous translations, improving quality and streamlining the process...."  We also appreciate the recognition that we have an extensive wealth of 'community skills and talent' that can contribute in appropriate and predictable ways to the improvements to and development of a holistic LSP to serve ICANN's community and Mission.  Further the split into 'Proactive Translation' and 'On Demand'  materials is welcomed and will give both guidance and clarity to our community in what it can 'expect' from ICANN's Language Services abd will be an aid to our own planning processes as the basis for  a decision to translate is now well defined.

 Specific to Interpretation:

ALAC and the At-Large community particularly appreciate and endorse the LSP recognition of the need to local language provision i.e. that there might be offered interpretation at  these meetings in languages relevant to the host country and region. As well as the note that streaming of live sessions and interpretation issues is being addressed.  We also appreciate the formal listing of the excellent support we enjoy already with the Language Services team assisting us with Interpretation at our teleconferences, as a section of the Draft ICANN LSP. 

We are delighted and heartened to see that the LSP  will also focus on the very important matter of Video Subtitling and would expect our community to make considerable use of this feature of future video material produced, as well as the detailed attention given to the LSP's 'Quality Control'  and 'Validation Review Cycle' planning and offer our members services and support in any way that can assist with this part of the proposed  ICANN Language Services programs and the proposed Language Services Policy Review in FY2014.

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LACRALO Proposed Statement


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  1. I recommend to change the following statement in page #13 under the “TELECONFERENCE INTERPRETATION “ section:

    ICANN will typically provide interpretation for conference calls where a significant number of participants are French or Spanish speakers, such as ALAC and RALO meetings.”

    to the following:

    ICANN will typically provide interpretation for conference calls where a significant number of participants are French or Spanish speakers, such as ALAC and RALO meetings. The number of participants required for this service should be determined by ALAC in coordination with Staff on a meeting-by-meeting basis as necessary.

  2. EURALO appreciates the initiatives and services rendered by ICANN in this respect so far to promote broader and inclusive community participation at ICANN's policy development. For our regular outreach work at the regional level (with more than 23 languages on the EU level only) it is desirable to have more key documents translated in other languages than the six official UN ones. As far as interpretation (meetings, teleconferences and transcripts) is concerned, EURALO considers the present efforts and services by ICANN as sufficient. Translation is an important means to an end but not a goal – besides the internationalization and diversity – itself.

  3. ICANNS commendable effort to be inclusive is not fulfilled at all by putting so much recourses into simultaneous interpretation (meetings or conference calls)  for 2-3 people benefiting only. Additionally all documents are usually also available in these languages.

    ICANN leaders are expected to communicate in English, it is time that we all agree on that. However translating key documents into more than 6 UN languages would help to spread the message for local ALS organisations and foster a much better understanding of processes and policies for ICANN leaders and allow to participate more actively.

  4. As a FYI, I submitted a public comment to this at http://forum.icann.org/lists/language-services-policy/msg00004.html

    Here is the comment for the record : 

    My comments relates primarily to the conference calls by Working
    Groups (WGs) by the various Advisory Committees (ACs) and Supporting
    Organisations (SOs) in ICANN.
    The large number (easily dozens in any given month outside of a public
    ICANN meeting) and duration (typically 1 hour or more) of conference
    calls by the various WGs in the ACs and SOs makes it difficult for
    members of the ICANN community (who often have hectic schedules within
    and outside of ICANN) to listen to the entire audio of meetings and
    conference calls. This is true even if interpretation in conference
    calls results in the availability of audio recordings in multiple
    languages afterwards.
    However, transcripts of conference calls by ICANN's ACs and SOs and
    their Working Groups (WGs) allow WG participants and observers the
    ability to read what was said and discussed during such conference
    calls in a shorter amount of time.
    Other benefits of transcripts:
    - Transcripts of WG meetings can also be translated, making available
    the discussions of the WGs more accessible to persons who speak
    languages other than English whereas simultaneous interpretation only
    offers the most benefit to those WG members who speak languages
    (available for interpretation) other than English during the meeting.
    - Transcripts made available on the Internet can be indexed by search
    engines, further increasing the accessibility of ICANN's work to the
    global public.
    The ability of Language Services to provide transcripts of WG meetings
    in a timely manner (within a few days) before the next WG meeting
    (typically once a week or once every two weeks or once a month) is
    crucial to allow for discussion of the issues pertinent to the WG by
    WG members and observers to impact the discussions at the next WG
    Having scribing or Real Time Transcription of meetings/conference
    calls could be more beneficial to the ICANN community because it makes
    available what was said in the conference call in the shortest time
    after the conference call. I am thinking the benefits of scribing of
    WG meetings gives WG members (and observers) the ability to follow the
    discussions in real time who are in an area of poor telephone
    connectivity or in a noisy or public space or who don't have the
    Internet bandwidth to stream the live audio from the meeting.
    However, I have no idea whether scribing is cost effective or
    practical to implement.
    Having the audio of conference calls is still very important,
    especially when one wants to hear the speakers' inflection, tone and
    other nuances in the discussions.
    Transcripts should have some timing information to allow readers of
    the transcripts to go to the specific time in the recording of the
    audio file to hear the discussion of interest.
    Finally, I would restate the objective on page 3:
    "Make information about ICANN and its work accessible to everyone,
    including those who speak languages other than English in ways that
    enhance participation in and the effectiveness of the multistakeholder
    Also, a heartfelt congratulations and appreciation to ICANN Language
    Services over the great, significant improvements made in the past few
    years as it relates to interpretation of conference calls and meetings
    for the Latin American and Caribbean Regional At-Large Organisation
    (LACRALO) and the ever increasing availability of translation of
    documents for public comment.
    Kind Regards,
    Dev Anand Teelucksingh
    At-Large Representative from the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society,
    LACRALO member
    LACRALO Secretariat (2009-2012)