Industry Standards

Why Are They Important

With so many language service companies (LSCs) in the United States and throughout the world, industry standards empower buyers to make better choices and have better expectations. They also empower those LSCs who are more dedicated to quality and professionalism. More than just a set of norms, standards provide a detailed and thorough set of meticulously established guidelines. An LSC can also be certified in some standards. 

ALC Gets to Work

Since 2010 , the ALC and many of its members have been actively involved in creating needed industry standards. A few standards did exist before then, but those were either not created expressly for the language services industry or they ignored many types of services or companies.
    
Some ISO standards, such as ISO 9001,  have been used by our industry for many years. But they were broad, vague, meant for any industry, and did not address the unique needs of our profession. More recently, ISO has created or started to create a few relevant standards. Each of these is for a single language service.

But there are still gaps. The ASTM, on behalf of the ALC, is in the process of creating a standard (WK41374) that gives LSCs a defined set of criteria in the eyes of language service buyers and the government. Most importantly, this standard looks to encompass all language service companies providing specific functions, including but not limited to translation, language training, language testing, interpreting, and transcription. These dedicated members are also finishing a wide array of general-use standards in each of the many services.

Comparing Key Standards

Here, we define and explain many standards and certifications for the language service industry. You can also click on the name of each standard to link to more information.

 Entire Company

 Just for the Language Industry

Any Industry

 (ASTM WK41374 in progress)
*certification would be available

ISO 9001
*Certification available

Basic policies, processes, procedures, and resources needed by an LSC to provide the quality services required by its clients

Requirements and tools for any organization that wants to ensure their products and services consistently meet customers requirements

 Translation

 Human Translation

 MT + Post-editing

 ASTM 2575

 ISO 17100
*certification available

 (ASTM WK46396
in progress
)

 ISO 18587

Guidelines for stakeholder communication about basic quality requirements

(does not define quality itself)

Requirements for stakeholder communication about basic quality requirements

(does not define quality itself)

Guidelines for how to develop quality metrics - analytic or holistic - in your company

(does not prescribe what those metrics should be)

Guidelines for the process of human post-editing of machine translation output

(does not define quality itself)

 Interpreting

In-person Spoken Interpretation

 ISO 18841

ASTM F2089

Basic policies, processes, procedures, and resources needed by an LSC to provide the quality services required by its clients

Requirements and tools for any organization that wants to ensure their products and services consistently meet customer’s requirements

 Language Teaching

ASTM F1562

Identification of the components of a quality language instructional program and establishment of criteria for each component

 Language Testing

ASTM F2889

Best practices for the development and use of language tests in the modalities of speaking, listening, reading, and writing for assessing ability according to the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale

For Companies and Not Linguists

Standards and certifications for LSCs should not be confused with standards and certifications for linguists and freelancers. Certifications such as ATA, National Board, RID, or AIIC can only be obtained by individual linguists. LSCs do consider these certifications during resourcing, but resourcing is just one area in which LSCs must manage quality. And one linguist with one certification is not as effective as a company’s comprehensive quality plan. Standards for companies address the full scope of the service and all projects, including before, during, and after resourcing.

If you would like to know more about linguist certifications or standards, a professional LSC can answer your questions.

 

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