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What is community checking and why should you invest in it?

Translations for Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities are particularly challenging.

How do you ensure that translations for Austalia’s multicultural communities are accurate and culturally appropriate?

Well, in Australia, there is a quality-assurance process for community translations that is called ‘community checking’.

Picture this. Your translation service provider has just delivered the Telugu translation that you requested of a fact sheet. On the surface, it looks great. But… you can’t read Telugu.

So you find yourself wondering: What if there’s something culturally insensitive in here? Will my audience understand the translation? Is the translation written in overly complex language?

Luckily, there is something called community checking or community validation that answers those questions for you.

If you haven’t heard of it before, community checking is a quality assurance measure that is often used on community translation projects. Members of your target community are engaged to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement on the translated text and moreso, to ensure that they understand the meaning of the translated text.

It gives you the information you need to culturally adapt your translations for your target communities — creating culturally appropriate, respectful and relevant translations that can be easily understood by your audience.


What is the process of community checking?

If you’re working with a professional translation company, such as Ethnolink, they may be able to organise and manage the community checking process for you from start to finish.

It’s important to note that not all translation companies offer this service. Community checking is typically only provided by specialist community translation providers, such as Ethnolink.

It’s a straightforward and hassle-free service for you, the client.

Here’s a simple overview of what happens behind the scenes after we’ve received the go-ahead on a community checking project:

    1. Recruit from our pool of community checkers
    2. Distribute translations to community checkers
    3. Review of community checker feedback by a NAATI-certified translator
    4. Implement changes and suggestions, as appropriate
    5. Deliver the finalised translations, a detailed community checking report and a Certificate of Community Validation to our client

At Ethnolink, we call this process our Premium Package, as it results in a premium, culturally appropriate translation.


Who are our community checkers?

You might be wondering, what is a community checker?  Community checkers are everyday members of the community, who meet the individual parameters of your target audience. 

For example, you’re translating a fact sheet into Arabic and Simplified Chinese, and your target audience is:

    • Male
    • Over 45-years-old
    • Living in Sydney

We engage native Arabic and Mandarin-speaking community checkers who fit that exact profile to review our translations. 

Community checkers are not professional linguists. Why is this important? Well, because we are trying to focus test the translated material with your audience, who may, for example, have lower levels of literacy and education.

A linguist is typically highly accomplished in English and their native language and as such, what might make sense to them, may not make sense to an ordinary community member.

We ask our community checkers specific questions such as: 

Is the text too formal, or too colloquial? Is this turn of phrase commonly used in their community? Is an alternative phrase more commonly used instead?

And their responses are always highly valued by our team, and provide invaluable insights. 


Why should I invest in community checking?

Where time and budget allow, Ethnolink’s recommendation has always been to pair community checking with independent checking.

Independent checking is a common quality assurance measure, where a second, independent NAATI-certified translator reviews the translated text alongside the source text.

It’s recommended under the Australian Government Language Services Guidelines, and it is standard practice across business and government translations.

So, why use both independent checking and community checking?

Independent checking and community checking complement each other very effectively.

Both are highly effective quality assurance measures — with different perspectives and insights.

Independent checking offers a language professional’s expertise. On the other hand, community checking gives you insight into your users’ needs and experiences.

Where time and budget allow, Ethnolink’s recommendation to our clients has always been to pair community checking with independent checking. 

Community checking feedback helps you:

    • gain valuable insight for further cultural adaptation of your translated texts
    • ensure culturally relevant and appropriate content
    • better identify information and accessibility gaps your audience may have

By including both independent checking and community checking in your translation project, you’ll ensure that your content is not only accurate, but also fit-for-purpose and easily understood by your audience.


A real example of community checking in action

One project that we’ve completed which included community checking was a brochure translation for Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA).

PANDA opted to invest in community checking in all 41 languages for their brochure aimed at raising awareness of perinatal mental health in new or expecting parents.

A brochure from PANDA. It contains a list of signs of perinatal anxiety and depression, and explains who PANDA is, as well as how to contact PANDA helplines and links to other helpful resources.
PANDA’s general services brochure — ‘PANDA can help’.

Our community checkers reviewed the translated versions and provided us with their feedback in their respective languages.

We translated and compiled the feedback into a comprehensive community checking report for PANDA. 

Here are a couple of excerpts from the report, based on feedback that we received from our Arabic and Dari community checkers.



After reviewing the brochure, the community member confirmed that it was clear and easy to understand, and included all the information needed for parents. No changes were suggested to the translation or images.

The community checker suggested that more information could be included about ‘postpartum psychosis’.

The community checker noted that increasing awareness of such issues is very important in their community, and valued the translation of the information on symptoms, seriousness, treatment method and suggestions. Further, postpartum depression among fathers is culturally sensitive and often considered shameful. The checker is confident that more awareness and information can help the community combat this.

As you can see, the community checker for the Arabic translation of the brochure offers several helpful and interesting insights here, including:

    • The quality of the translation
    • Cultural sensitivities associated with the topic which can be further addressed
    • How the content of the brochure may be received by the community
    • What other information the community may need



The checker found the document very informative and easy to follow, with culturally appropriate images and information.

The checker made some suggestions for alternative phrases, which were reviewed and implemented by the translator where the meaning of the text was not affected.

As many community members would not feel comfortable discussing their mental health with someone outside of the family, the checker stressed the importance of building a rapport before addressing such topics. Important contacts would be maternal nurses, family doctors and playgroups.

In particular, the checker mentioned that some of the refugee/migrant women don’t have information about postpartum depression and as a result don’t seek treatment. Concern about possible stigma is high.

In the feedback here, the community checker provided insights on:

    • The quality of the translation
    • Whether the translation was culturally appropriate and respectful
    • Further edits to phrasing to create a more natural reading experience
    • How to distribute the resource
    • Who may require the information most 

The insights that our community checkers offer are invaluable.

And that’s why we highly recommend community checking as an extra quality assurance step in translation.


Chat with us about community checking

Interested in learning more?

You can get a quote from one of our Translation Strategists.

Or book a 30-minute chat with our Multicultural Communications Adviser, Rachael to find out more about Ethnolink’s language solutions.

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