I recently took a look at the Rosetta Stone and the Rosetta Project, and now there is the Rosetta Foundation.

Based in Ireland, the Foundation aims

to make information accessible to people independent of their social status, their linguistic and cultural background and their geographical location through the development and the deployment of an intelligent translation and localisation environment. (Source: The Rosetta Foundation)

More specifically, the Foundation wants to make ‘life critical’ information available in native languages. As the chief executive of the service provider Welocalize said:

“This initiative could help extend the benefits of the translation industry to the people that most need it. Individuals all over the world are deprived of critical information in their native language that could potentially save their lives. We believe that in order to grow and meet global content demands, we must collaborate to innovate.” (Source: IWR)

The project is being jointly run by The University of Limerick (Ireland), the Centre for Next Generation Localisation (CNGL) as well as the service provider, and backed by the Irish government.

Hopefully it will be as successful as a smaller-scale service run in the UK, which offers translations to questions and answers for medical staff. SignTranslate provides short video clips of questions, and also links to live interpreters for more complex translations. This means that there is no lengthy wait for an interpreter, helping to save lives and lessen distress for patients.

Thankfully I’ve never needed to go to hospital in a country where I don’t speak the language, but this project gives me hope that if I do, I will be able to communicate my needs effectively.