How to work with multiple language populations after a healthcare data breach?

This “Data Breach Response – How To” article is part of our larger series by Heather Noonan.

Working with multiple languages after a data breach can be fairly simple if you remember a couple important things and remember that you may run into some obstacles along the way. Think of it as an adventure and that you, just might learn something along the way.

I know some Spanish and I know some French, but that is as far as it goes. I couldn’t write a Spanish letter if I tried. In scenarios like this, I recommend you use a language translation service or if you typically handle translations in house, you can probably handle it internally, but make sure you keep the letter formal and double check for accuracy. Sometimes the simplest descriptions of what happened and what is being done can be lost in translation and end up unreasonably scaring people.

A couple things to consider and ask yourself while working with multiple languages:

  1. What languages will you need? This will depend on the demographics of your group and who was affected.
  2. Don’t assume that because someone is from Taiwan or their last name is from a Taiwanese origin that their dialect is Mandarin. Make sure you provide due diligence to find out.
  3. Be cautious of using colloquial language. Keep the letter formal and double check for accuracy.
  4. Be very cautious of what can be lost in translation. Sometimes the seriousness can be lost or oppositely, emphasized too much. Make sure you use a reputable language service and run a draft by someone of the dialect. Does the letter make sense to them? Is the letter still formal and grammatically correct?
  5. Will there be a primary language? Will each letter have a primary language such as English, with other multiple languages following?
  6. Consider the order and layout. Will one language come before the other? Ex: For English and Spanish languages, will the letter be written in English, with Spanish following? Should each language have their own specific letter version or should they be included with the English version?

Remember that working with multiple languages doesn’t have to be scary. It may simply take a little more time and due diligence, and as we have said before, you might just learn something along the way. Merci et bonne chance!!

-Heather Noonan

Senior Project Manager-Data Breach Response Team

For more help on responding to a healthcare data breach


About Heather Noonan

Heather Noonan, a Senior Project Manager of a Data Breach Response Team, has been gracious enough to help write our “How To” series. She brings an unprecedented amount of knowledge when it comes to healthcare data breach response as she has managed hundreds – from small 10 person breaches to over 300,000 person breaches – going on 5 years.

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