Everything You Need to Know About Translators without Borders

Everything You Need to Know About Translators without Borders

Translators without Borders was initially formed back in 1993 under the name Traducteurs sans Frontières in France by translators Ros Smith-Thomas and Lori Thicke.

Translators without Borders, as it is now known around the world, aims to match the world’s best translators to non-profit organisations to ensure that countries across the globe can gain access to appropriate literature on health, education, and nutrition.

At Anglia Translations Ltd, we’re one of the many organisations that contributes to this amazing cause and we’re proud to be an official Bronze Sponsor.


Translators without Borders is a non-profit organisation now based in the US that seeks to close language gaps that create barriers in crucial humanitarian and international efforts.

The charity recognised from the beginning that the impact of any international aid or development programme is solely reliant on ensuring that the correct information is imparted to the communities within those regions.

By putting together a worldwide group of the very best professional translators, TWB can empower non-profit organisations by giving them the tools and the know-how to overcome language barriers and improve access to vital knowledge, while gaining critical insight into the conditions and climates of underprivileged communities.

Translators without Borders seeks to create a world where the passing of knowledge knows no language barrier. In order to do this the charity:

  • Offers aid during humanitarian crises using translation and interpretation to ensure entire communities have the information they need.
  • Simplifies language to ensure it is culturally relevant, accessible, and available to all in need.
  • Builds translation relationships locally.

The Work

Without the help of people like ourselves, TWB couldn’t possibly undertake the vital work that it does. With the help of their sponsors, the charity works around the world to raise awareness around the important language barriers that prevent the spread of information that could save lives and even entire communities during humanitarian crises.

Each year the charity translates over twenty million translated words in over 200 languages to improve local services, education or inform people of their rights.

In the past twelve months, they have translated over five million words of COVID-19 literature to create a comprehensive COVID-19 glossary outlining keywords and phrases in more than forty different languages.

Words of Relief Programme

The Words of Relief programme is about translating basic phrases, such as:

  • “Do you need a doctor?”
  • “Boil water for safe drinking.”
  • “What is your name?”

Basic terms are often misinterpreted or misunderstood, which can create catastrophic consequences for communities in crises.

Words of Relief is the first crises response translation network of its kind and is aimed at improving communication between impacted populations and the first responders in the field.

The programme achieves this by:

  • Creating training schemes for translators and interpreters in languages where crisis management is needed.
  • Translating and publishing crucial messages in the correct languages to avert crises in the first place.
  • Formulating networks of highly trained professionals, often already in the field, who can offer immediate assistance.
  • Supporting and championing the development of machine translation and other language tech.
  • Working with organisations to distribute data in the language of the crisis-hit region to create a basic communication platform.
  • Offering guidance and data on the most efficient dialects, formats, and networks for connecting with affected communities.

Words of Relief was initially piloted in Nairobi, Kenya between January 2014 to April 2015, focusing on the languages of Swahili and Somali. The brief was to offer language assistance to humanitarian organisations and translators already on the ground to coordinate a standardised communication platform to improve information deployment.

Since this initial pilot, the model has been implemented successfully all over the world, such as:

  • West African Ebola Crises, 2014
  • Nepal Earthquake, 2015
  • Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria in the Caribbean and South USA, 2017.
  • Refugee response in Greece, since 2015.
  • Rapid response translation of Arabic, Farsi, Greek, Kurdish and Urdu.


Whether addressing the needs of refugees, training humanitarian aid, responding to crises or developing resources for a better quality of life, TWB has helped to bring down knowledge barriers all over the world.

If you’d like to find out more about Translators without Borders you can visit their website, or if you’re interested in any of our services, why not contact us today to see how we can help you?