How’s your Spanish? Ours just got MUCH better.
Hyper-Reach now offers automated translation of English emergency alerts into Spanish. The feature is available both for text messages and also does text-to-speech, in order to deliver the message as a voice call.
When an agency uses the Spanish option, the recipient will see the text message in both English in Spanish. For voice calls, the person being called is prompted to “press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish”. Both text translation and text-to-voice are powered by Google Translate.
More than 20% of US households speak a language other than English and Spanish is the largest and fastest growing non-English linguistic group in the country. So being able to deliver your message in Spanish could be very important. In some parts of the US, Spanish is the dominant language for more than half the population.
How good is the translation? A recent head-to-head comparison (Google vs. a human translator) by the translation service Verbal Ink concluded that “It does a pretty good job of getting the gist of a text or recording, certainly enough for basic understanding.” Other commenters say roughly the same thing, and make it clear that it’s not good for complex documents, nuance or specialized language. But emergency alerts are short and should be simple and specific in any case. And it’s worth noting that more than half a billion people, and over half a million websites use Google Translate, including sites for the states of California, Texas, New York, Washington and Indiana. It’s even used on USA.Gov!