Respond Crisis Translation
Respond Crisis Translation (RCT) is a collective of language activists providing compassionate, effective, and trauma-informed interpretation and translation services for migrants, refugees, and anyone experiencing language barriers. Their main goals are fostering systems of change, advancing justice for individuals that face language-related violence/discrimination, as well as institutionalizing and normalizing language access. RCT relies on a network of volunteer translators and crowdfunding to support operations. They provide pro bono services to individuals and have a sliding scale fee policy for organizations and collectives who serve asylum seekers on small or no budgets. They do charge for certain requests including services relating to Indigenous, African, Afro-Indigenous, and endangered languages in order to compensate translators and interpreters on the team who are themselves refugees, deportees/returnees, or financially vulnerable. RCT’s team is using tech tools allowing staff and translators to be located in any country or timezone and to respond to crises in different parts of the globe. Within the first weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, 2022, more than 500 people applied to join the team as Russian and/or Ukrainian translators and interpreters. They have now provided over 1,700 hours of interpreter services.
Theory of Change
Providing translation and interpretation services for individuals experiencing language barriers advances access to justice for asylum seekers, migrants, and refugees.
RCT provides essential trainings and trauma support to translators and interpreters. Their direct service focuses on serving people who have been impacted by language violence and language exclusion. Beyond translation and interpretation, RCT’s professionals help bridge the cultural and social gaps. RCT also vets the training curriculum of other organizations to make sure that they have high-quality multilingual content and creates outreach and awareness workshops on advocating for language democracy and access. Further, RCT has a network of culturally and linguistically sensitive psychological support clinicians and offers referrals. Lastly, RCT runs a Language Democracy Project fostering system change. They work on policy proposals focused on voter mobilization and advocating for standardizing translation access across different institutions. RCT uses its platform to promote social justice campaigns, such as the “Human beings don’t belong in cages” to advocate for immigrant and asylum-seekers rights and against ICE human rights violations. RCT also works with schools to strategize ways to make schools more inclusive to non-English parents and families.
RCT has the capacity to translate over 100 languages. Since its founding RCT has translated over 61,000 pages, provided over 16,500 hours of phone interpretation across over 7,900 cases, having served over 4,350 individual clients. RCT has over 2,100 translators in its network and partners with over 220 organizations. They have created over 330 jobs through translation work. So far, RCT has provided a value of almost one million US dollars worth of translation for free. RCT has achieved an impact in its core focus on refugees/asylum-seekers from Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Haiti. RCT has raised $9,000 through grassroots contributions to support Haitian asylum seekers, and the Haitian Kreyol team dedicated over 1,900 hours of work. They have provided support for asylum seekers in emergency oral interpretation services and translation of parole applications.