Multilingual Design: Bringing Language Access to the Full Stack

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Session Description

As the next billion come online, and as more communities network with each other around the world, language divides present a significant hurdle to fostering truly global communication and information awareness. While in theory the world can connect with each other across borders, in practice the internet we see and interact with is limited to the language we speak. These limitations steadily increase for those who do not speak majority languages like English, Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic and others. Language access is a critical human rights issue, and technologists need to consider these issues from the ground up. With a panel of leading thinkers in the field of language and design, Meedan will facilitate a conversation around the following core questions: What are the most pressing issues around language access in digital spaces today? This appears to be a “full stack” problem that stretches from typography and fonts to content availability to the very code by which our software is built. In a world of constraints, how would we prioritize how we address these issues? What are the most salient and relevant design issues when it comes to designing for multilingualism? How can we aim to improve linguistic access and intercommunication? What actions can organizations and technologists take today, and what actions can we start moving toward for more sustainable support? What models can we learn from as we start to imagine a more linguistically-inclusive internet? What successes have we seen — whether formally or informally implemented — that point to a possible future? The goal of this conversation will be to identify guiding principles for language access and inclusion for software developers and organizations designing platforms for global usage.

Multilingual Design: Bringing Language Access to the Full Stack
Presenter/s An Xiao
Organization Meedan
Bio/s An “An Xiao” Mina joined Meedan in 2013 to lead product management for Bridge, Meedan’s social media translation platform. During her tenure, she has driven specification, design and development of Bridge and played a key role in establishing strategic partnerships with organizations like National Geographic and the DOLLY Project. She currently spearheads Meedan’s strategic efforts to develop a holistic product suite for global journalism and translation, driven by both qualitative and quantitative data. Having worked at FAKE Design (the design studio of Ai Weiwei) and edited two books on his digital activism, An has written and spoken extensively on the role of social media for both free speech and misinformation in China, and she has organized and supported panel discussions with others studying social media and activism (often in low-freedom environments) at the Personal Democracy Forum, RightsCon and others.



Chris Blow is a designer motivated to create a more international and humane internet. As Director of User Experience, Chris has developed a user-driven methodology based on 15 years of experience, and he supports a team of designers conducting usability testing, interaction design, graphic design and frontend development. Chris has facilitated Meedan’s design strategy with international partners such as Cambridge University and the International Institute for Education, and he has conducted a variety of field-based trainings with Meedan (Egypt), Humanitarian OpenStreetMap (Indonesia), InSTEDD (Cambodia) and Ushahidi (Queens, NY). He has presented his work to the Interaction Design Association and AIGA in San Francisco, DrupalCon, the CrisisMappers conference, and NYU ITP. Before starting at Meedan in 2007, he worked at Bolt | Peters as a Rails developer building Ethnio, a professional usability research tool, and he conducted specialized usability research for companies like Autodesk, Electronic Arts and Sony.

Language English
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