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A flyer about open enrollment in SpanishWhile spring may only just have sprung, it is never too early to be thinking about providing your materials about open enrollment in Spanish. Just like a lot goes into putting together a comprehensive benefits package, a lot goes into an effective translation of open enrollment resources. We’re focusing on Spanish because that is the language our clients request the most, but the following points apply for open enrollment in any language.

Team selection is where it starts on our end. Our English > Spanish translation teams have been working with copy related to US open enrollment and benefits for years. They’ve studied the terminology used in the United States and reference glossaries such as those available on healthcare.gov and private insurance companies’ pages. These are the resources that your employees may be using to find more information about certain terms, if you are not providing a glossary as part of your open enrollment information packet. We also maintain translation memories and termbases (a sort of glossary) for each of our clients. That way our teams can leverage repetitive content from year to year. This not only saves time and money, but also ensures consistency. Since translation for open enrollment in Spanish may only be requested during a certain season of the year, it can be challenging to remember off the top of your head what terminology was used for important benefits such as an Employee Assistance Program. Our teams incorporate our termbases and translation memories into their process so that they’re not relying on their memories when translating content they may not have seen or worked with for months. They also participate in professional development so that they’re aware of and informed about trends and changes in the employee benefits space.

An open enrollment announcement in English above the identical announcement in SpanishAs you’re well aware, copywriting is only half the lift where open enrollment is concerned. You work hard to create layouts that present all the necessary information in an attractive and easy-to-read way. We work with typesetters who are experienced in multilingual DTP and familiar with the challenges that surface when working with languages that expand or contract compared to English. When translating open enrollment in Spanish, we can always be pretty sure that the Spanish content will be longer, and therefore take up more space in layout. If you’ve never translated your assets before, we highly recommend doing some research as to whether your target language translations will likely be longer or shorter than the source English. If they will be longer, you can set your language service provider (LSP) up for success by building some wiggle room into your designs. We always avoid decreasing font sizes because our work in health literacy has taught us that too-small fonts impede readability. Having extra space built into the design helps with that.

We also always include three rounds of visual proof once the translations have been put in layout. We do an in-house print and screen QA: we look at the source document and the translated document side by side (digital and hard copy versions) to ensure that all the formatting from the original has been maintained in the translation. We also have the translator do a linguistic quality assurance (LQA) check to ensure that the translations did not get corrupted or truncated in layout.

Instructions for navigating open enrollment in SpanishA thorough open enrollment resource will include instructions for how employees enroll in their benefits. Whether you use hard copy paperwork or an online system, determining whether those items have already been translated helps ensure a smooth and user-friendly enrollment experience. For example, let’s say employees have to complete a form entitled “Benefits Enrollment,” but that form has not been translated into Spanish. Telling employees that they have to fill out the “Inscripción a los beneficios” form could be confusing or frustrating because technically a form with that name doesn’t exist. And if your employees have limited English proficiency (LEP), they may have to take additional steps to determine which form they need. This extra step, no matter how small it may seem, can present an unwanted barrier to enrollment. Similarly, if you use an online system that has been translated, you will want to provide your LSP with the translations that are already in use for navigational elements like “Get Started” and “Update selections.” If the system itself uses “Comenzar” and your brochure about open enrollment in Spanish says “Empezar,” this creates a disconnect for users. Those words are synonyms, so it’s not to say that an employee couldn’t still navigate the system correctly. However, these types of “mismatch” can give the impression that you don’t know what your own system looks like, decreasing trust and possibly giving employees the idea that your instructions are out of date or inaccurate.

Finally, you may offer a hotline or personalized appointment with an HR representative to help employees navigate open enrollment. If you aren’t sure whether Spanish-speaking representatives are available, you may want to consider over-the-phone interpreting (OPI) to facilitate these conversations at a moment’s notice. If you have a scheduled in-person meeting, then of course an in-person interpreter can also be an excellent resource. If you have a hotline or open office hours, OPI can provide the flexibility you need to assist your LEP employees when questions arise. You will need to keep in mind that interpreters are not customer service representatives able to answer employees’ questions. Rather, they facilitate communication between an English-speaking benefits expert and an LEP employee. We encourage you to check out our dedicated interpreting page if you want to learn more.

Navigating open enrollment can be challenging no matter who you are or what language you speak. If you’ve been considering providing information about open enrollment in Spanish (or another language), rest assured that this can be a worthwhile step towards expanding access to the valuable benefits package you provide. You can check out our other posts about translating open enrollment materials and healthcare terminology if you want to continue learning more. If you have specific questions or are ready to get started, we’d also be happy to speak with you or send you more information.