Language Industry Standards
Translation and Localization Standards
Thousands of translation and localization companies operate around the world and each has their own way of doing things. For an outsider, it can be hard to evaluate a potential vendor or partner. How do they measure quality? Will I get professional customer service? Do they have a procedure in place for when something goes wrong? When faced with questions like these, industry standards can be useful to differentiate companies.
Demonstrating professionalism to customers is an important reason why translation companies become certified in translation standards. The complex task of preparing for certification helps organize, document, and improve internal processes. Finally, some requests for proposals (RFPs) require participants to be certified, particularly when working in regulated sectors.
Translation and localization standards are not static; they change and develop over time. Also, there are dozens of parallel standards from organizations around the world, and only a few of them are broadly popular (see lists below). Keep in mind that standards certifications are only one measure of a company's maturity and competence. If you're evaluating a service provider, be sure to look beyond the certification at other criteria to ensure a good fit with your projects and goals.
The most popular certifications in the language industry are issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
- ISO 9001:2015 quality management systems
- ISO 17100:2015 translation services
- ISO 18587:2017 post editing of machine translation output
- ISO 13485:2016 medical devices quality management systems
ASTM International is another standards body serving translation and localization sector.
- ASTM F3130-18 Standard Practice for Language Service Companies
- ASTM F2575-14 Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation
- ASTM 2089-15 Standard Practice for Language Interpreting
GALA encourages language services companies to consider the benefits and costs of certification carefully, but it is not engaged in the certification process.
GALA's standards work is driven by the GALA Standards Committee which has ongoing projects creating educational and reference materials, providing analysis and recommendations, and advocating for standardization in the areas where it is most needed.
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