ATC has been at the forefront in the development of language industry standards since the inception of the European translation services standard, EN 15038, paving the way for the international standard ISO 17100, published in 2015.
ATC’s ISO Commenting Group continues to actively participate in the development of LSP standards for translation and interpreting, carrying on the legacy of the association’s standards pioneers.
Read more about LSP ISO standards under development in the Translation, Interpreting and Equipment tabs below. The Get Involved section gives you more information about ISO standards development and our Commenting Group.
ISO/TS 11669:2012 Translation projects – Guidelines
This Technical specification was published in 2012 and at the systematic review of ISO standards was voted in 2016 to remain without change for a further 4 years
This technical specification (TS) provides general guidance for all phases of a translation project. Its main purpose is to facilitate communication among the parties involved in a project.
It is intended for use by all stakeholders of the translation project, including those who request translation services, those who provide the services and those who make use of the results of the project — in particular, the translation product. It applies to multiple sectors, including the commercial and government sectors, and non-profit organizations.
It provides a framework for developing structured specifications for translation projects, but does not cover
legally binding contracts between parties involved in a translation project.
It addresses quality assurance and provides the basis for qualitative assessment, but does not provide procedures for quantitative measures of the quality of a translation product.
It is not applicable to interpreting services.
ISO 17100:2015 Translation services – Service requirements
This is a published standard with an amendment to clause 3.1.4 on translator qualifications published in 2017.
This international standard provides requirements for the core processes, resources and other aspects necessary for the delivery of a quality translation service that meets applicable specifications.
Application of this international standard also provides the means by which a translation service provider (TSP) can demonstrate conformity of specified translation services to this international standard and the capability of its processes and resources to deliver a translation service that will meets the client’s and other applicable specifications.
Applicable specifications can include those of the client, of the TSP itself, and of any relevant industry codes, best-practice guides or legislation.
This international standard does not apply to interpreting services.
BS EN ISO 18587 Translation services – Post-editing of machine translation output – Requirements
This is a published standard with requirements against which claims of conformity can be for full post editing of machine translation output and an annex that describes a light post editing of machine translation output service.
This document provides requirements for the process of full, human post-editing of machine translation
output and post-editors’ competences.
This document is intended to be used by TSPs, their clients, and post-editors.
It is only applicable to content processed by MT systems.
NOTE For translation services in general, see ISO 17100.
SO/CD* 20771 Specialized translation services – Requirements: Part 1 Legal translation
This document provides requirements for the competences and qualifications of legal translators, revisers and reviewers, defines the core processes, resources, professional development, training and other aspects necessary for the provision by individual translators of a quality legal specialist translation service that meets applicable specifications.
Application of this document also provides the means by which an individual translator can demonstrate their professionalism and conformity of specific translation services to this document and their capability to deliver a legal translation service that will meet the Client’s and other applicable specifications and be therefore considered fit-for-purpose specialist translation product.
The use of output from machine translation, even with post-editing, is outside the scope of this document.
This document does not apply to interpreting services.
ISO 13611:2014 Interpreting – Guidelines for community interpreting
This international standard was published in 2014 and will be due for its systematic review in 2019 when it is likely to be revised
This international standard establishes criteria and recommendations for community interpreting during oral and signed communication that enables access to services that people who have limited proficiency in the language of such services. Community interpreting occurs in a wide variety of private and public settings and supports equal access to community and/or public services.
This international standard addresses community interpreting as a profession, not as an informal practice such as interpreting performed by friends, family members, children or other people who do not have the competences and qualifications specified in this international standard or who do not follow a relevant code of ethics.
This international standard is a guidance document. It establishes and provides the basic principles and practices necessary to ensure quality community interpreting services for all language communities, for end users, as well as for requesters and for service providers. Furthermore, it provides general guidelines that are common to all forms of community interpreting. This international standard is applicable to settings where speakers of non-societal languages need to communicate to access services. The settings vary and can include, among others, the following:
– public institutions (schools, universities, community centres etc)
– human and social services (refugee boards, self-help centres etc)
– healthcare institutions (hospitals, nursing homes etc)
– business and industry (real estate, insurance etc)
– faith based organizations (rituals, ceremonies etc)
– emergency situations (natural disasters, epidemics etc)
Interpreting that enables access to services may include services provided in legal settings (police stations, courts, prisons etc) that facilitate equal access to justice. In some countries, legal interpreting, a broad field that includes court interpreting, is not considered part of community interpreting. This international standard does not supersede national standards or legislation which addresses any sector of interpreting, including court or legal interpreting. (See Annex A for further details)
This international standard also provides guidance for the provision of community interpreting services. As a result, this international standard addresses and refers to all parties involved in facilitating any communicative event enables access to community services, such as members of linguistic minorities, community interpreters, community interpreting service providers, public institutions and other stakeholders who provide services to diverse linguistic communities.
ISO 18841 Interpreting services – Requirements and recommendations
Published January 2018
This International Standard establishes basic requirements for the provision of interpreting services. Additionally, it provides recommendations of good practice.
NOTE Interpreting specializations/specialized interpreting services are covered in other International Standards (e.g. “ISO 20228, Legal interpreting”).
ISO/DIS* 20228 Interpreting services – Legal interpreting – Requirements
This International Standard establishes criteria, requirements and recommendations for legal interpreting during spoken and signed communication that enables persons who have limited proficiency in the language the legal proceedings are conducted in. Legal interpreting services also facilitate communication between persons using the language of service and persons using another language. Legal interpreting is provided in a variety of public and private settings related to the law and supports equal access to them.
This International Standard establishes requirements for legal interpreting services. It establishes and provides the basic principles and practices necessary to ensure quality interpreting services for all language communities, for end users as well as requesters, and service providers. This International Standard is applicable to all situations requiring interpreting where the users of legal services need to communicate orally or by signed language. The service categories vary and include all situations that have legal implications (see Annex B).
This International Standard also provides guidance for legal interpreting services. It covers all parties involved in facilitating communication in any of the above settings. However, it does not supersede national regimes or legislation governing interpreting services in any of the above settings.
ISO/WD* 21998 Interpreting services – Healthcare interpreting – Requirements
This International Standard establishes criteria, requirements and/or recommendations for healthcare interpreting during spoken and signed communication. Healthcare interpreting services: a) enable safe communication mainly between providers and patients interacting in the healthcare setting, b) provide linguistic access to these services, c) and, ensure patient safety.
This International Standard establishes requirements for healthcare interpreting services. It establishes and provides the basic principles and practices necessary to ensure competent interpreting services for all language communities, for end users as well as requesters and service providers. This International Standard is applicable to all situations requiring healthcare interpreting, where the parties involved need to communicate orally, or by signed language, to resolve a healthcare-related issue.
This International Standard provides requirements for healthcare interpreting services. It covers all parties involved in facilitating communication in healthcare settings. However, it does not supersede national or state/provincial regimes or legislation, which govern interpreting services in any of the above settings.
New Work Item Proposals
Interpreting New Work Item Proposals
A New Work Item Proposal (NWIP) is the starting point for the development of a standard
Interpreting services – Conference interpreting – Requirements and recommendation
ISO 2063 Simultaneous interpreting – permanent booths – requirements
This document provides requirements and recommendations for building and renovating permanent booths for simultaneous interpreting in new and existing buildings. This document also ensures the usability and accessibility of booths for all interpreters, including those with special needs.
It is applicable to all types of permanent booths, using built-in or portable equipment. In conjunction with either this document or ISO 4043, ISO 20108 and ISO 20109 provide the relevant requirements both for the quality and transmission of sound and image provided to interpreters and for the equipment needed in the booths.
ISO 4043 Simultaneous interpreting – Mobile booths – requirements
This document provides requirements and recommendations for the manufacturing of mobile simultaneous interpreting booths. The main features of mobile booths that distinguish them from permanent simultaneous interpreting booths are that they can be dismantled, moved and set up in a conference room not equipped with permanent booths. This document also ensures the usability and accessibility of booths for all interpreters, including those with special needs.
Requirements for the use and siting of mobile booths are described in Annex A.
In conjunction with either ISO 2603 or this document, ISO 20108 and ISO 20109 provide the relevant requirements both for the quality and transmission of sound and image provided to interpreters and for the equipment needed in the booths.
ISO 20108 Simultaneous interpreting – Quality and transmission of sound and image input – Requirements
This international standard provides requirements for the quality of sound and image input interpreters and thus specifies the characteristics of the necessary audio and video signals delivered to the interpreters. The components of typical interpreting systems are specified in ISO 20109. Together with permanent (ISO 2603) or mobile (ISO 4043) booths, these interpreting systems form the interpreter’s working environment. In addition to the requirements for on-site interpreting, where participants (speakers and other audience taking the floor) this international standard specifies requirements for varieties of distance interpreting situations, whereby the interpreters are not at the same location as one or more of the participants of the conference.
In conjunction with either ISO 2306 or ISO 4043, ISO 20108 and ISO 20109 provide the relevant requirements both for the equipment needed in the booths and for the quality and transmission of sound and image provided to interpreters.
ISO 20109 Simultaneous interpreting – Equipment- Requirements
This document specifies requirements for equipment used for simultaneous interpreting.
Accessibility requirements are defined in Annex A.
Requirements for booths furniture are defined in Annex B.
Requirements on the system operation are defined in Annex C.
In conjunction with either ISO 2603 or ISO 4043, ISO 20108 and this document provide the relevant requirements both for the quality and transmission of sound and image provided to interpreters and for the equipment needed in the booths.
ISO 21720 XLIFF (XML localization interchange file format)
XLIFF is the XML Localisation Interchange File Format designed by a group of multilingual content publishers, software providers, localization service providers, localization tools providers and researchers. It is intended to give any multilingual content owner a single interchange file format that can be understood by any localization provider, using any conformant localization tool. While the primary focus is on being a lossless interchange format, usage of XLIFF as a processing format is neither encouraged nor discouraged or prohibited.
This Get Involved section provides more detailed information on what ISO standards work entails and how members of the ATC can benefit from becoming involved in ISO standardisation work whilst at the same time feeling good about putting something back into the ATC and to the language services industry.
Why Do We Need ISO Standards
Why does the Language Services Industry need ISO Standards?
International standards specifically relating to the language services industry aim to set the bar on basic requirements and quality expectations on services provided. Standards provide the criteria upon which the professionalism of language service providers (LSPs) can be objectively assured – and showcased to the rest of the world.
The ATC endorses the development of language services industry standards to enhance the position of the UK’s language services industry throughout the world by being seen to be at the forefront of both the development and the application of the emerging ISO standards for the industry and ensuring that they serve the purposes of its member companies.
Naturally, there are no “one-size-fits-all” solutions, and no standard will be relevant to or useful for all LSPs. The language services industry is in many ways extremely fragmented, and the sheer range of LSP types, sizes and operational setups means that it would be impossible to develop standards that everyone can – or should – be certified to.
But we have to start somewhere. Over the past 20 years, the language services industry has developed from a “cottage industry” to a serious, professional sector with its own processes, tools, and requirements, and now emerging international standards. What we want to aim at is the collaborative development of standards that LSPs across the world find useful and applicable.
The ATC Standards Commenting Group
The ATC ISO Standards Commenting Group
The ATC contributes to the development of ISO standards for the language service industry through the BSI, as the UK’s National Standards Body, liaising with the translator associations ITI and CIOL on ISO standards development.
The ATC’s ISO Standards Commenting Group reviews and comments on ISO standards under development and votes on the UK’s stance during the various drafting stages towards publication of the international standard. The group is headed by the ATC’s standards expert Chris Cox, and has LSP representatives from a variety of UK-based companies providing valuable input to the standards development process.
Getting involved in the commenting group is a great way of staying abreast of standards development in the language industry, of obtaining free R&D material for use within the member company and to influence the way these emerging standards are defined and used in the future.
The group welcomes all new ATC members with open arms. Please get in touch with ATC Certification at firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved and make a difference!
ISO Standardization Structure
ISO Standardization Structure
ISO technical sub-committee 5 of ISO’s technical committee (TC) 37 is the sub-committee responsible for the development of translation, interpreting and related technology standards, chaired by the ATC’s standards expert Chris Cox.
At national level, in the UK the ATC’s standards commenting group provides the ATC’s input as a member of the BSI technical committee TS/1 which, in turn, is the UK’s national mirror committee providing UK input to ISO/TC 37/SC 5 projects.
Each of the currently 28 participating countries will have a similar mirror committee to TS/1, some more active than others but all with the same rights of participation.
In the ISO SC 5, working groups (WGs) are formed of interested representatives of the national mirror committees to perform the work necessary to take a project from new work item proposal (NWIP) through all stages of its development to final publication as an international standard. Currently there is one WG for translation, one for interpreting, one for facilities and technical equipment used in interpreting, as well as a terminology coordination group. There are also plans for a potential new working group for translation-related technology.
Apart from national mirror committees from countries involved in ISO work which are eligible to vote during the various stages of standard development, there are also a growing number of liaison bodies, such as GALA, EUATC and WIPO, who can comment on standards under development, but who do not have a vote in the process.
Overseeing all the technical work of ISO committees with respect particularly to the committees operating within the requirements of the ISO directives is the ISO Technical Management Board (ISO/TMB).
ISO Standardization Process and Concept
ISO Standardisation Process and Concepts
Throughout the stages of a new standard’s development cycle from a new work item proposal (NWIP) to a published international standard, it is the ISO national standards body members, or member countries, participating in the development work in the ISO technical committees, who vote on whether to accept or disapprove the standard in its current stage of development in order to move to the next stage.
The process starts with a NWIP for a new international standard to be developed being justified as being needed and submitted by a member country for ballot. It is considered by participating member countries and balloted. If at least 5 member countries express interest and offer named experts to work on the standard, an ISO working group (WG) is formed of experts who will participate in the work of creating a working draft (WD) which, if approved proceeds to a committee draft (CD).
The CD is then the basis of the work that follows for all national standards body mirror committee’s members and liaisons to comment on and member countries’ mirror committees only (not liaisons), to ballot through to the next stage.
This is the draft international standard (DIS) stage when the standard is open not only for commenting by the national standards body, but also by the general public in the country.
Before a standard finally becomes a new international standard, it undergoes a final draft international standard (FDIS) stage, when only editorial comments are accepted unless a negative vote is entered in which case, a technical reason has to be provided.
Recent changes in the process have been introduced in the ISO Directives whereby it is now possible for a WG to opt out of both the CD and FDIS stages. These allowances will make sense when speed is necessary and advisable given the maturity of the content. More so with the CD stage than the FDIS, WGs are currently erring on the side of opting for a full process.
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