Although the majority of our meetings are currently held remotely, organisations in Wales can still arrange bilingual meetings during COVID-19 crisis, and the Welsh Language Commissioner has published guidance
to support organisations, and share best practice.
Organisations under Welsh language standards are required to offer the opportunity for people to speak Welsh in public meetings, and external meetings. For others, holding bilingual meetings and inviting people to contribute in the language of their choice is a core part of the way we operate here in Wales.
Senedd Cymru was probably the first parliament in the world to hold a bilingual plenary session online, and organisations including the National Museum Wales have also pioneered by using Zoom and similar technology. The Commissioner's new advice document lists practical considerations for arranging a bilingual online meeting and provides simple guidance on how to go about it successfully.
Dr Eleri James, Senior Infrastructure and Research Officer at the Welsh Language Commissioner, who led the work of creating this advice document, said:
“We are pleased that we have been able to turn around quickly practical guidance to organisations on holding bilingual video meetings that we hope will be of use and assistance to them.
The fundamental changes to people's work patterns and lives as a result of the current restrictions have also caused a fundamental change in the use of technology, especially those technologies that allow people to conduct meetings remotely.
It has been fantastic to see the translation profession in Wales proactively responding to these new challenges. It is almost inevitable that these technologies will continue to develop and evolve during this time – and we will continue to add to our advice, as new developments emerge and as people and organisations in Wales – and beyond – continue to innovate in order to continue to offer bilingual services.”
The document has already received praise from simultaneous translators and organisations alike. Osian Rhys, Director of Nico, Welsh language translation service said:
"When using new technology, it’s natural that people are initially hesitant, but the response afterwards has been very positive. And translating over video is easier for the interpreter in one sense, as people tend to speak more cautiously without interrupting each other!”
Manon Humphreys, Welsh Language Coordinator, National Museum Wales also welcomes the Welsh Language Commissioner's new advice document, and is pleased to contribute the museum's practical and staged guidance in relation to the Zoom software:
“We are pleased to be able to use technology to continue to hold bilingual meetings at a difficult time, and hope that the guidelines will be of use to others. Although we pursued this work due to the Coronavirus crisis, it will also be useful when we return to our offices, to facilitate greener bilingual meetings and reduce the need to travel.”