A New Chapter for Translators without Borders: CLEAR Global
Interview with co-CEOs, Aimee Ansari and Andrew Bredenkamp
Translators without Borders (TWB) is the leading non-profit translation charity, well-known in and out of the localization industry for doing incredible work. They bring information (often critical healthcare information) to people who really need it, in a language they understand. After 10 years (and congratulations TWB on your 10 year anniversary 😊) CLEAR Global has launched to mark a new chapter, building on TWB’s work to expand and work towards a broader mission.
CLEAR stands for Community, Language, Engagement, Accountability, Reach. This new organization recognizes a broader ambition to help people all over the world get vital information – looking at ways to empower people through language and technology. There are now three focus areas that form part of CLEAR Global: CLEAR Tech which will focus on developing and applying innovative language technology, CLEAR Insights that will build on research and global advocacy work, and TWB, continuing to represent the global network of 60,000+ volunteer linguists located in 148 countries.
Welocalize has supported TWB since its inception 10 years ago and will continue to be a super fan (and sponsor) to CLEAR Global.
Welocalize’s Louise Law spoke with CLEAR Global’s co-CEOs, Aimee Ansari and Andrew Bredenkamp to find out more about the new look organization.
“I sat in a room with Smith [Yewell, Welocalize CEO] many years ago when he was involved with The Rosetta Foundation, and Lori Thicke [Founder of TWB] talking about both organizations. What was clear was that it was not so much the translation piece, but the shared vision of breaking down global language barriers,” says Andrew Bredenkamp, CEO of CLEAR Tech. (Andrew was a founding board member of TWB, and is now also Chair of Clear Global).
Andrew continues, “The evolution to CLEAR Global recognizes that to better solve the problem of poor communication and information, the team had to develop more technology, generate more research, and advocate for all languages to be taken seriously. TWB started as a volunteer community – translators working for a non-profit – but over the past years, we’ve realized that the community is only part of the solution. Technology is also a key part. We’re looking at emerging solutions such as chatbot and conversational AI applications to help get people the right information and also support those Aid workers who are working in crisis areas. They can have two-way conversations to get the right information and understand new, unfamiliar terminology – sometimes that will be provided by a linguist, sometimes that will be a satisfactory interaction with one of our trained chatbots.”
Shehu, one of CLEAR Global’s multilingual COVID-19 chatbots for people in northeast Nigeria has connected over 3,000 users with accurate information in their language.
Aimee Ansari joined TWB five years ago and brought many years of humanitarian experience to the organization. As one of CLEAR Global’s CEOs, she’s excited about the new, broader mission and moving forward to provide more support for Aid organizations and workers.
Aimee shared “Having the community of translators is great but one translation might help just one person. In a village, a message could then be passed through five people, each translating into a different language and ultimately the meaning could become something very different! It could even be misleading. It’s not just about the translation – that doesn’t completely solve the problem of, for example, getting information to help prevent the spread of cholera to local communities; the translation has to be used to communicate the information. CLEAR Global is looking at the bigger picture and as well as providing translation, we’ll have the investment in technology and be able to advocate on the importance of getting information to everyone, in every language – even the lesser-known ones.”
Did you know? There are 6000+ languages spoken in the world today. Google Translate supports 108 which is a tiny number compared to the thousands of languages spoken by crisis-affected people globally.
Aimee continues “Our approach to global access to information is not just about ‘without borders.’ It is also about equality, diversity, and inclusion and making sure we have and hear voices from everywhere. We want to support people who speak all languages to make sure they have the information they need to make life-affecting decisions for themselves and their families.”
With the launch of CLEAR Global in May this year, there are many new initiatives and ways to get involved for supporters and volunteers. What are Aimee and Andrew most excited about with this new chapter?
“I’m really excited about the fact we’re purposely designing everything we do so it can be delivered locally. People who speak the languages and live locally develop the content for chatbots and will work in ways so that people can easily access information and feel comfortable at a local level. A fresh chapter for the organization also brings renewed interest not only in terms of funding but also more diverse talent and volunteers,” Aimee says. “The localization industry has always supported TWB and we really value the long-term partnership of companies like Welocalize, as a sponsor and also a source of amazing linguistic volunteering talent.”
Andrew added “For me, it’s the possibility that AI brings. AI is not a replacement technology but a technology that can help and augment – an assistance approach. With machine translation and AI, we can deal with the more simple, standard first level conversations which frees up people for the conversations that need a human touch. We have a fantastic opportunity to scale and grow the work of CLEAR Global by using AI in the right places.”
How can you help the work of CLEAR Global and TWB?
To accompany this brand evolution, TWB is running a fundraising campaign to lead them into the next 10 years. TWB wants to raise funds that they’ll invest in building diverse, scalable language technologies and ensure that CLEAR Global gets off to a strong start.
If you want to support TWB’s growth, you can help them spread the word about their campaign “10 years on. Ready for more” or make a donation. Every contribution counts and will be used to improve other people’s lives.