Quality Standards for Translation Services

Quality Standards

Industry standards are the norm for many manufactured products in the developed world and are increasingly becoming common in the service industry. Like any other supplier of goods and services, the translation industry is increasingly the subject of quality standards.

This is no surprise, as translation service suppliers have an obligation to their clients to provide a quality service. Standards protect both the client as well as the translation provider as these standards focus on the mutual obligations that both parties have to each other.

Quality standards for country specific translation services, as well as on a more regional basis, have developed over the last decade. Examples in Europe are the German DIN 2345, the Austrian ?norm D1200 and other standards in individual countries. These standards have been more or less replaced by the European translation standard EN 15038, which covers 30 European countries and came into effect in 2006. The standard aims to achieve a more unified use of terminology, define what the main requirements are for translation providers and sets out the rights and responsibilities of both translators and their clients.

Similar translations standards have been adopted by Canada more recently and also in the USA. While the Canadian translation standard tends to follow the more prescriptive European albeit with a Canadian perspective, the American standard is more of a guideline based version and recognises individual differences between translation providers.

Standards in translation services do not usually cover related industries such as interpreting, but Australia is an exception.

In Australia, most trusted translations services are accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) and accreditation provides an easy way for a potential customer to select a translation service that meets national guidelines for quality assurance in Australia. More recently, there has been a push for creating specific translation quality standards in specific fields such as health services, mainly because of the large immigrant population in the country. This means that information about access to services such as health must often be efficiently translated into many different languages.

Some translation providers have criticized the emphasis on quality standards and feel that high quality may not necessarily always be achieved by a very prescriptive and dogmatic attachment to standards. They say that a focus on training and feedback for translators can be just as useful.