The service has been developed through collaboration in the Department of Finance's Digital Shared Services by the nidirect Central Editorial Team, DTS Digital Inclusion and IT Assist's Digital Development Team.
At the bottom of each page on the nidirect website, there is now a 'How to translate this page' link for the user.
When the visitor clicks this button they are taken to the translation help page on nidirect. A list of over 100 languages will then appear on screen. The visitor then simply clicks on the language they wish to use.
The content he or she is looking at on nidirect will immediately translate, as well as any content they look at when linking to other sites. The translation lasts for the length of the session a person is on nidirect. This process needs to be followed for each visit.
The translation service will not apply for transactions on nidirect e.g. booking an MOT. It will also not apply for feedback, where someone is leaving a comment - the staff taking the relevant action in response to transactions and feedback need to be able to understand the information provided by the citizen. There are also some large PDFs which cannot be translated, however nidirect is actively looking at ways to reduce the number of PDFs on the site.
The languages which can be translated are all of those which are available through the Google Translate tool, a full list of which can be found here.
Head of nidirect Central Editorial Team (CET) Philip Maguire explained:
''Northern Ireland has a rich blend of communities. This also means though that some people here struggle to undertsand the language we use. Be it our ethnic minorities, be it the refugees or asylum seekers who seek sanctuary on our shores, having government information translate at the touch of a button will be welcomed.
"A central objective of CET's Action Plan is for more people to access content on nidirect. I don't mean total numbers. Our following is already large with over 68 million page views so far this financial year. Rather, it is about further extending our reach, breaking down the barriers of language and helping to instil understanding. Never has been more so been the case than in the swirl of a global pandemic. How can I keep my family safe? How can I test for Covid? When will I get my vaccine? They are questions on everybody's lips but potentially life-saving if answered in a person's native tongue.
''However, with over 8000 pages of content on nidirect updated on a daily basis, CET knew it wouldn't be an easy task. The team considered feasible options and looked at what translation services were available and how they could potentially work for nidirect.
"As always CET are indebted to the great support and technical know-how from the IT Assist Digital Development Team."
Neil Blair from IT Assist Digital Development, who played a key role in facilitating the setting up of the new translation button added:
"Many organisations pay a lot of money for a translation tool that only works on their website. That's great for users of that website but what happens when they visit other websites which do not provide translation tools? nidirect by its nature is a hub linking to content on many other sites, so we wanted to provide easy access to freely available translation tools like Google Translate that will help people translate not just nidirect but any website. When you use the solution to translate nidirect, any website visited through nidirect will continue to be translated using this system."
The new translation service is available now and if you need further advice or information, please email the Head of the nidirect Central Editorial Team, Philip Maguire.