The Welsh Government has developed a service with Microsoft for Welsh-English translations during meetings over the Teams platform.
It involves the use of designated interpreters and gives participants a choice of which language they want to listen to in real time, and the ability to switch between languages during a meeting.
Glyn Jones, chief digital officer for the Welsh Government, commented: “I don’t think you can underestimate the impact this will have on organisations that operate bilingually or multilingually. We’ve had really positive feedback from the people who’ve tested it with us. The interpreters and the people listening think it’s great.
“Wales is bilingual. We speak Welsh and we speak English. This new functionality will help us use our Welsh more than we’ve been able to during Covid-19. I’m sure we’ll see more people using Welsh in meetings than was ever the case before the pandemic — that’s my ambition.”
Prior to the pandemic interpreters used to travel across Wales to attend meetings and provided translations that people could listen to through headsets. During the pandemic some began to observe a meeting through Teams and provide translation through a telephone line.
This has now been replaced by a new feature in which they can provide the translation through the platform.
Aled Jones, co-owner of translation company Cymen, which works with the Welsh Government, said: “The whole purpose of an interpreter is just to be in the background, assisting the meeting.
“This feature will mean that the interpreting will happen without anyone drawing attention to the fact that there are interpreting services in the meeting. The meeting can run bilingually, smoothly and seamlessly.
“Everything is within the same app, so it’s also very easy to use. People attending the meeting don’t have to open another window, another tab or another device.”
The Welsh Government has a duty to provide meetings in English and Welsh.