CIPHR webinar – Welsh Language Standards

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David: Hello, everyone and thank you for joining us for today’s webinar about the Welsh language standards and how CIPHR and LinguaSkin can deliver a multilingual HR system to your employees. My name is David Richter, I’m the head of marketing at CIPHR. And we’re joined today by Richard Sheppard who is the founder of Interceptor Solutions, who’ve developed the LinguaSkin tool. LinguaSkin provides a quick, easy, and cost-effective way to create a multilingual interface for monolingual sites and web applications, including CIPHR. For those of you who don’t know CIPHR, we work with a number of organisations in Wales to provide their employees access to our HR system in both the English and Welsh languages. I’m really pleased that Richard can join us today. He’s got a great understanding of the Welsh language legislation and its implications. By way of an agenda, Richard will be giving an overview of the Welsh language legislation, who it effects, and process of enforcement which will identify how the Welsh language measure applies to HR systems. He’ll give an introduction to LinguaSkin and then show a brief demonstration of LinguaSkin in action and a demo version of the CIPHR HR system. 

Richard: Thanks very much, David. So, I think Dave has billed to be me an expert and the Welsh language legislation. I understand whole various chunks of it. I guess the specialism that we bring in is more around the implication into software and IT. But to lead into that, I will give some background as to how we understand the legislation. Previously, the previous legislation was from Westminster and was the Welsh Language Act of 1993. As those powers got devolved to the National Assembly for Wales in 2011, a whole new set of primary legislation was passed by the assembly, the Welsh Language Wales Measure 2011. What that did, and this is where you will need to forgive me if I misstate some of the full scope, but essentially it established the Welsh language commissioner as a replacement for the Welsh Language Board. And it also put Welsh language obligations on a range of organisations that was stated in the legislation. And also, it stated the regulations and put them on a statutory basis. Now, when the legislation itself was passed, those regulations didn’t come into force. What was intended and what has happened since is sets of secondary legislation have been passed to specifically identify the organisations. 

But going back to that primary legislation, it pretty much identified the first set of, I think it was around about 209 organisations. The vagueness is this was passed in 2011 and obviously there’s been mergers and new organisations established, and named changes since then. So, it’s a slightly movable beast. But identified a whole range of organisations to which these regulations would apply in schedule six. And they were essentially largely public sector, the Welsh government, crown government, various government departments, local government, councils, blue light, police, fire ambulance, health, national parks, social housing, and so on. And then a whole category of general organisations, which can be categorised into some groups that we would recognise like higher education and universities for education colleges. The third sector, it’s pretty much defined that even though the third sector is not typically considered public sector, but where they would receive sort of 400,000 pounds or more of funding per year. And then a whole range of organisations. And the slide is just not long enough for that, so I’ve just pulled out some of the B’s to give you an idea, BBC, Bank of England, so on and so forth. Essentially, organisations in the public sector that had engagement with citizens. And there’s also a key point in there, the acting on behalf of. So, if an organisation does subcontract or tender out its services and operations in any way, that contracted organization still has the obligations to meet the regulations. So, the obligation still sits with the primary organisation. 

So, how does all this hang together? Well, that was act, the 2011 measure, was a primary legislation, identified the organisations. Then sets of secondary regulations, secondary legislation are passed. And these essentially define the specific regulations gonna apply and the organisations to whom they are going to apply. So, when the act was initially passed, the Welsh language commissioner identified three rounds. Round one was 26 organisations, which was the local authorities, national parks, and Welsh government and related organisations. Round one was another hundred or so. And then round three was the rest. Now, we saw around one get passed in, I think March 2016 they became imposed on those organisations. Round two, became somewhat more fragmented and ended up with five secondary sets of legislation, not all of which got passed. And so, the grand plan of three rounds hasn’t actually rolled out in the way intended. But we are seeing an incremental year-on-year increase the number of organisations to whom the regulations apply. 

So, when that secondary legislation gets passed, all kinds of things happen, and this is where there are far better experts than myself in this. But essentially, the commission will go through the organisations identified in a consultation process and will discuss the regulations and how they apply, give an opportunity for appeal. Essentially, that ends up with a compliance notice being issued to the organisation identifying the standards that apply to them. And the time-frame for compliance typically six months, and at the end of that six months the standards are then imposed upon the organisation and they are expected to meet them. After that point, there is typically, and I can’t speak for the commissioner, but there is typically little intent to go out and enforce these in a police in kind of way. There are investigations and the commissioner does respond if they see shortcomings. But largely, the process then is driven by complaints from the citizen that has the right to access services bilingually. If a complaint is raised for the commissioner, it then goes through sometimes a fairly long process. There’s a Welsh language tribunal, if the complainant doesn’t feel that things have been handled fairly. If it’s upheld, you can end up with a new enforcement notice, which requires some remedy. Usually, the remedy is a time period to correct the shortcoming, but can then go on into a more difficult process after that. And I don’t think, in my awareness, I don’t think we’ve seen anything go beyond the enforcement notice and the requirement to correct it. 

So, I am not going to read out all of these words, this is a slide in detail. But what we’ve done here is really just extracted some of those regulations or standards from a compliance notice to give you a sense of how they feel and these, pretty much, are the ones that dictate a lot of what you might want to consider in your self-service HR system. So, the top one and the bottom one are the interesting ones from an IT perspective. It tells us that all applications must function fully in Welsh. And the Welsh language will be no less favourably treated than the English. The bottom one says staff should have computer software but also then it critically says that you must also provide Welsh language interfaces for software where such an interface exists. The bunch of the middle really are around HR policy and procedures. And I think the third one from the bottom is one that really kind of highlights where this is important for HR self-service is that employees, if they’re using forms for annual leave, absence from work, and so on and so forth, they should have the ability to use those in Welsh. 

So clearly, if you’re automating…you know, if you’re a paper-based system, we understand what that means. If you’re automating that with HR self-service software, that HR self-service software must be able to administer those forms in Welsh. More, these are really ones that we pulled out that are around the recruitment process. So, again, if you use a software tool to automate that process, there’s a whole bunch of standards that made…they don’t specifically state that the software itself needs to be bilingual, but certainly, the business process that the software supports must be bilingual, and hence, the software itself, therefore, needs to be bilingual. 

So, what kind of feedback are organisations giving the Welsh language commissioner? These statements have been pulled out of, I think, it was around three consultation responses. And it really kind of highlights the challenges that are out there. First of all that, you know, if you’re asking for software to be bilingual, there can be a significant cost and a very expensive and impractical cost in making those systems bilingual. And organisations were saying that the systems they use at the moment are only in English and there’s one, second from the bottom, specifically talks about electronic HR software is only available in English at present. So, that’s all of the background for legislation. I’ll move on now to talk a bit about where the technology and the challenges around bilingual software and I’ll talk a bit about LinguaSkin as a solution. 

So, the solution to meet the standard is really is that, this essentially the users want to use software in their own language. Lots of software. In our experience, most software out there tends to come in just one language and needs to be modified to make it multilingual. So, during this presentation I’ll switch between multilingual and bilingual. Clearly, we’re talking about bilingualism in the English/Welsh context and the legislative context in Wales. But actually, there is a broader discussion around multilingualism. And if you’re doing two languages, doing a third, a fourth, a fifth usually isn’t that significant a step. So, how do you make software multilingual? Well, the obvious one, you have to take all of the text that appears in the software user interface and translate it into the required language. We call that the creation of a language pack, or LP, is the common terms. The other thing you then need to do is you need to go back and you need to modify the software to allow it to display that language pack in the user interface. And more critically, especially in our bilingual context, the ability to switch between language packs on-the-fly. And I think that the one thing that is really a challenge in all this is that as software changes, it’s a slow resource intensive and very expensive process. 

So, this is where LinguaSkin comes in and why we developed it. So, LinguaSkin enables multilingual user interfaces, again, we’re talking really specifically about bilingual today. The next point that was critical is non-invasive. So, when we first built the CIPHR configuration as with all the other systems that we use LinguaSkin for, there were no changes required to CIPHR at all. So, therefore, it can be quick and cost-effective to implement. The language selector, and the term for that is “active offer.” So, what’s important in a bilingual context is that you can switch between languages on-the-fly, but also that language selector is always available so the user doesn’t just make a choice the beginning of their process and they’re stuck in a language. They can be halfway through the use of the software, decide to switch language, and switch back and forth. And that’s particularly useful, you know, this terminology that people are unfamiliar with if their language learners and so on and so forth.  

One question we get asked a lot is about the quality of the language. So, without making a point to talk specifically about products out there like Google Translate and Bing Translate, this is not a machine translation solution. So, we do not have a software solution that will automatically translate into Welsh. And that’s good news because we can assure language quality. How LinguaSkin works is we extract all the text out in a configuration process, which has already been done for CIPHR. And then, we get a human translator to translate that into Welsh and build the Welsh language pack. So, we can absolutely assure the quality of the language, its fit, its placement, and its presentation. In fact, we’ve done quite a number of CIPHR implementations now. And each time we’ve worked with our customers to review and refine that Welsh language translation. And also, when we implement for a new customer, we include in the implementation process the ability for the customer to review and edit those translations. So, where we end up with is a set of Welsh language translations in the user interface that each customer is entirely and completely happy with. And if they’re not, they can always be edited. In a matter of about 15 or 30 seconds of effort, we can modify a translation. 

I think the last point I’ve mentioned that already but the proven CIPHR configuration, you know, LinguaSkin for CIPHR has been used now for after several years with a number of organisation in Wales that have a high regard for the language and it’s really proven and continues to be used. So, how does LinguaSkin work? Well, it’s pretty much as we said. We can take an English language or a single language web application and put LinguaSkin in place and create an English/Welsh, CY is the abbreviation for Welsh, or any other language. How it works, I’m not gonna get into the technical diagram but if there are any techies, you may get more of a sense of how it works. They use a technique called reverse proxy where essentially we can put LinguaSkin on a web server and point it at an application, i.e. CIPHR or somewhere else. It allows us, essentially, to do a glorified search and replace for that pre-translated text. How is it used? I think I refer to a lot of this already is that when we first configure LinguaSkin for an application, we will scrape all the text out. And in fact, even when we implement LinguaSkin for new CIPHR implementations we do an element to this because there are the job titles, the department, the training, and course names, and so on. So, we’ll scrape out that new text, organise it, and translate it. And again, the emphasis here is that LinguaSkin itself is not doing the translation but it’s providing the tool that the translator can come in and provide the high-quality translation for. And then, each time a user accesses a page and requests the Welsh language, it’s replacing the text with the Welsh replacements. And it’s also inserting the language selector. 

So, that’s enough about LinguaSkin. Who we as Interceptor Solutions? Well, some of you in Wales will already be familiar with Chemical Draig Technology. And that was the previous business, the forerunner to Interceptor Solutions. And Interceptor was really formed to take on some of that work that Draig had done around this multilingual user interface. If you’re familiar with Draig, we got about 200,000 users at To Bach, which is now available to Interceptor Solutions. And we did a whole range of stuff around, including working with [inaudible 00:14:53] to do the Welsh language packs for Microsoft, Windows, and Office. And today, we still maintain, as editors, the advice note from the Welsh language commissioner on software and we’ve just been engaged by the Welsh government to write the procurement guidelines for bilingual software. So, a couple slides now to end off the presentation but I’m gonna skip through them because I’m gonna move on to a quick demonstration. But the slide deck will be distributed, and here’s our contact details. And thank you very much. Now before we go on to questions, I’m just going to skip into the demonstration. 

So, here’s a CIPHR sales demo. So, it’s a brand-neutral demonstration vision system. I’m going to switch over now to the LinguaSkin variant. Now, I don’t know how well this will come across on the presentation. If you look at the top right of the standard CIPHR, you just see blank space. If I switch off the LinguaSkin we see this language selector. Cymraeg is the Welsh word for Welsh. If I switch that, click on that, we’ll see the user interface switch over to Welsh. On the selector, changed to English, which is the English word for English. So, I’m in the Welsh interface. I’m just gonna login. So basically, we’ll go through LinguaSkin. The application works exactly as normal. In fact, demos are fairly quick and brief because it does exactly what it says on the tin. It allows us to use what is essentially [inaudible 00:16:25], an English-only application, and use it entirely through the medium of Welsh. And here we see the dashboard. It allows us to get in everywhere. Woken [SP] doesn’t have a Welsh translation that we’re aware of. Oh, we missed one. Manchester should be Manceinion. That’s an easy thing to fix. But it allows us to get in everywhere. So the whole user experience, the all tags, everything is there and we can replace all the English text with Welsh. Menus, the whole lot.  

And I’m just gonna run through a couple of functions. I’m not really gonna give you a full demonstration of CIPHR by any means. What I’m gonna show you is what essentially a software user interfaces being available fully in Welsh. And switchable at any time. We can switch back and forth whenever we like as a user if we see terms we are unfamiliar with. The whole user interface is there. Here’s a calendar, the date abbreviations. I’ll just book Thursday, March the 1st to Friday March the 2nd. The drop down menus, I can select everything. As you can see, it’s entirely what you would hope for if you were using an interface. There we go. As I said, I’m not going into detail, that’s basically the time book in our screen. Another one that’s quite busy and quite nice to show, a CIPHR thing, is the global who’s off chart. And as you can see in here, you know, the old tags, all aspects the user interface been translated. One point to show you is here’s an example where we’ll see some English. And these are really, these are the job titles for the demo, so, we left those things like marketing and so on, which we had, you know, a training which we had, and finance where we had a translation for. But these the areas where if we were configuring this for a specific customer we’d be extracting this text sender which would say, can you give us the translations for your job titles. And as far as a demo, I can go on…we’ve done the whole interface, everything, include the new employee, we did the whole lot, and various organisations are using that live at the moment. But as far as a demo, that’s pretty much all I got to show.  

David: I think that’s a really good summary. I think it shows the ability for LinguaSkin just to translate really anything that sits within the CIPHR HR system, be it menu item, be it a field name, be it a button, be it a calendar. And it really does have the ability to translate anything that is held within the system. 

Richard: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, pretty much the technology, without going into the technical details, is everything that you can see in a browser LinguaSkin can modify, and therefore, we can get a 100% coverage and all text can be translated. 

David: Fantastic. Richard, if it’s okay with you, we’ve had a couple of questions come through if you’ve got a bit of time just to run through those. The first one, Richard, is what is the implementation time for applying LinguaSkin to an application? 

Richard: That’s a tricky one because there’s a few stages involved and not all involve our work. Typically, we can do it in as little as a week and we have done it as little as a week, even for systems that we’ve no experience of. So, yeah, we can start on a Monday and be done by Friday. The reality is, it rarely takes less than month because there are various activities involved. So, we can host LinguaSkin on our service but typically it goes onto a costumer network, and there’s good security reasons and other reasons for that, and that takes time. You know, as I mentioned, we allow customers the ability to review and edit the translations, that can take some time, especially to get translations back for things like the job titles, and department names, and so on. And of course, then also, you know, it’s not just dumped on a customer. We get the customer involved in acceptance testing to go through and make sure that everything is absolutely as they want it and looks correct. So, you know, in aiming for that perfection, it just to take a little more time. So, you know, one to three months is a typical time frame, but it can be done in as little as a week if everyone is motivated to do so. 

David: Okay. Thank you. And next question is can customers edit the translations provided? 

Richard: Yeah, absolutely. So, as I’ve mentioned, we build that into the implementation process. So, when we are configuring LinguaSkin for a CIPHR implementation, we’ll send the customer two files. Typically, Excel spreadsheets, we can send them in any format but we’ve discovered that translators tend to like Excel as a format. We’ll send two. One will be the existing translations we’ve got for CIPHR and we’ll ask the customer to review those and edit as they see fit. Now, those are pretty much translations that have been done by existing customers that have given us the permission to share them. So, we’re very grateful for that. So, they’re all provided free of charge. The customer can edit them and we’ll put those back in. And the second file will be any text we found in the user interface that we haven’t got a translation for already and they will, as I’ve said, typically be things like job titles, department name, training course names, and text specific to your organisation. Oh sorry, and one other thought for that, we do have a management centre which most of our customers don’t use because that implementation process covers all the text. But after we go live, we have an online tool that we can use, or the customer can use, and simply go in edit the translation, click a publish button, and the translations are updated. 

David: Okay. So, if they added another field within CIPHR and they didn’t have a translation already, that could be something they manage themselves? 

Richard: Yeah. I mean, I glibly say 15 seconds. I can demo it in about 10 seconds. In the real world it might take a couple of minutes to, you know, log in and then remember what to click on but it is a very straightforward and easy process. 

David: Okay. Quick question, is this just for Welsh or can other languages be supported? 

Richard: No. LinguaSkin, ironically, I often say, has got nothing to do with language, it’s all to do with the technology and taking out that cost and difficulty. I won’t say the language is the easy bit, as I’m not a translator and hold translators in high regard, but we could translate it into any language. In fact, often we do demos for a new system, we’ll actually use Korean just because we can Google Translate that and nobody cares. But pretty much any languages can be added there. And once we’ve got the build, if somebody wanted another language like French or German, you know, quite a common request for multinationals working across Europe, we just export the Excel spreadsheet and ask a translator, we re-import it, and the new language is provisioned. 

David: Fantastic. And then final question is, what about security and handling of confidential information? 

Richard: I think the confidential information one’s the easy one to say is that LinguaSkin doesn’t actually handle any confidential information. All its doing is passing through the user interface on the fly. It’s not storing anything and it’s not examining any confidential information. And then on security, there’s a key thing on the internet about HTTPS you’ll see in the browser or SSL certificates, that guarantees the secure communication between your browser and, for instance, CIPHR mysitefor24/ Well, LinguaSkin uses that same technology, so it is using the same secure connection to the CIPHR website as a browser uses. And then, when we deploy, typically LinguaSkin sits on our customer’s infrastructure so it sits within the customer’s operational and security control. It’s not a solution out on the internet or in the cloud. So, when you add all that together, it ends up being a very, very solid and secure system.  

In fact, we designed it for this purpose when we first start looking at this at Draig Technology. We were looking at the banks and the government’s secure internet and so on. Yeah. As I say, when we first started working on the prototype for LinguaSkin back in 2007 and 2008 at Draig, we were targeted at the banks and the government secure internet and those highly secure environments. And we do work with customers who have very high security requirements and they penetrate and test it. So, there’s a lot of credentials and evidence to support our claims of security.  

David: Perfect. Thank you. And right. Well, that’s all the questions at the moment. If anyone does have any further questions for either Richard or myself after the event, please email through. If anyone watching today would like to arrange a full demonstration of CIPHR…I know Richard gave a very brief demonstration a moment ago, but if you’d like to see, for your specific instance, how CIPHR can help you to hire, engage, retain, and manage your employees more effectively, please, do drop me a line after webinar and we’ll get a demonstration arranged. Thank you all for attending and a huge thank you to Richard for his excellent presentation. Thank you very much. Thank you, Richard. 

Richard: Thank you. 

David Richter and Richard Sheppard of Linguaskin discuss how CIPHR and Linguaskin’s bilingual capabilities can help to ensure your organisation complies with the requirements of the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011.

Webinar agenda

  • Background to the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011, its requirements and how it will impact organisations in the future

  • Demo of how Linguaskin provides bilingual functionality to your employees and managers in CIPHR’s HR system

  • Questions
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