GALA – the Globalization and Localization Association, Who are they? How do they Impact Translators?

So many factors impact our work as translators and interpreters. Small things like spotty internet connection to larger issues such as political mandates regarding language access, but what about the myriad of organizations and associations that deals with our industry. Below follows an interview with Allison Ferch, Director of Communications and Engagement, of the Globalization and Localization Association or GALA for short.

Could you explain the role of GALA in the translation and localization industry?

GALA is a trade association for the translation and localization industry. As a non-profit membership organization we offer a non-biased platform for information-sharing, collaboration, training, and professional development. We actively promote translation, localization, and interpreting as essential elements of global business and our outreach educates the general business community about the enormous benefits that the language enterprise brings to global business. In a nutshell, our role is to elevate the translation and localization industry, both in terms of internal maturity and sophistication, as well as how it is perceived by the global business community.

Has GALA achieved its’ original goals? What is GALA doing to meet its’ original purpose or has GALA increased the roles and agenda it had established upon inception?

GALA’s mission and vision have evolved since its inception. The association was originally formed by a group of language service provider (LSP) companies in order to address the unique needs of LSPs. Through a series of changes to the bylaws that happened gradually over a period of 10 years, GALA has now expanded its membership and its goals to meet the needs of all localization professionals, whether they work for vendor companies like LSPs or for enterprises in different sectors. GALA’S current mission is to support our members and the language industry by creating communities, championing standards, sharing knowledge, and advancing technology. Our vision is to be the voice for the language industry and the resource for the language enterprise.

GALA is primarily for agencies and large companies, but these employ translators who need to know what is trending in the industry.

-What have you heard from agencies or large companies about the industry?

-Technology is definitely a popular topic among professionals whether they’re on the buy-side or the vendor side of the industry. Machine translation (and post editing), audiovisual translation and subtitling, and video-remote interpreting will all be featured at our upcoming annual conference. Business owners continue to investigate new business models as alternatives to the per-word pricing model, and we also hear discussion about the “disintermediation” of the industry whereby clients request direct access to linguists and resources like translation memories. Finally, we hear of changing project lifecycles with an emphasis on smaller projects with faster turnaround times – often driven by Agile software development cycles.

-What types of changes are being implemented?

-Many translation and localization agencies are working on specialization, either in the sectors they serve or the type of services they offer. As they move into more consultative roles, they are able to move away from the price-per-word model. We see more emphasis on data-driven decisions from the client side as they seek to justify investments in language services and prove ROI to their upper management. And we see adaptations in project management to cope with the demands of Agile development with its smaller word counts and faster turn-around times.

GALA serves an international membership, however how does GALA interact with members on the local level?

In the past, GALA’s tagline was “Communicate locally, succeed globally” and though we no longer use that in marketing materials, we do still believe it. In spite of having member companies in more than 50 countries, we do interact with members regionally and locally. Our Partner Program is one way that we do this. Through a series of partnerships with regional associations, we extend our reach and are able to get involved in events and programs that otherwise would not be accessible to us and our members. We also co-organize local networking events in cities around the world. These events are always open to all industry professionals and provide a fun and easy way for people to connect with their peers. Finally, we encourage and support the development of local or regional user groups such as the Seattle Localization Group (SLUG) which plans quarterly meet-ups with speakers and networking.