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The project filling in the coronavirus language gap

29 April 2020 at 5:39 pm
Maggie Coggan
A new digital library features 28 languages commonly spoken in Australia’s refugee and asylum seeker communities 

Maggie Coggan | 29 April 2020 at 5:39 pm


The project filling in the coronavirus language gap
29 April 2020 at 5:39 pm

A new digital library features 28 languages commonly spoken in Australia’s refugee and asylum seeker communities 

There’s a lot of information out on how to keep safe from coronavirus, but if English isn’t your first language, it can be difficult to track down essential information. 

It’s an issue that Selena Choo is trying to fix. She has created Videos in Language: Coronavirus and Handwashing, a digital library of important coronavirus health information, videos, and tips, in 28 different Middle-Eastern, African and Asian languages. 

The languages, which include Dinka, Swahili, Arabic, Kurdish, Bengali and Tibetan, were selected because they are all commonly spoken in Australia’s refugee and asylum seeker communities.  

The library is sorted by language group, with links to videos and health information sites underneath in the specified language.  

Choo told Pro Bono News she created the resource page after realising there wasn’t one central coronavirus information point for people who speak English as a second language.

She said that although this information is available on various community, charity, media and government websites, putting it all in the one place made it much more accessible for people who spoke English as a second language. 

“People are more likely to change their behaviours if you make it easy for them,” she said.  

“If you have to spend three weeks researching to find information that tells you how to wash your hands properly, it probably just won’t happen.” 

She said she tried to create a webpage that was user-friendly, with clear and concise messaging, and has been working with community groups and translators to ensure the information is accurate and makes sense. 

While the site has only been up and running for a couple of weeks, she said it is already making a difference. 

“I’ve connected with a number of community groups that work with African language speakers, and they’ve found it really helpful,” she said. 

“My aim now is just to get the word out to community groups about the page because I want it to reach as many people as possible so they can be informed with the right information.” 

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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