Val Swisher, of Content Rules, gave Intelligent Content Conference 2014 attendees an update about the WikiProject Med project by her and her peers at Translators Without Borders.

The update gave us a look at why they have such a strong passion for this mission, how do they tackle this challenge, and how we can help.

The mission: Health Information for All in a Language of their Choice.

According to Swisher, it takes a village to build this great humanitarian project along with dedication and respect for intelligent content practices. Swisher walked us through a few of the principles toward making medical information accessible: Readability, Local Language Translation, and Access for All.


Medical articles are pretty complex in English, let alone translatable.

Swisher and company found a few solutions:

  1. Simplify the medical articles before translation
  2. Create a database of simple medical terminology
  3. Put translators into consistent, Simplified English program

Using software, the team identified, simplified, and tabled the medical terms for Wiki use. It took a year, but now Swisher and her team have a solid database for use.

Local Language Translation

As anyone who plays with Google Translate knows, some translations of English to other languages are horrendous. Add medical terminology into the mix and translations become even more complex.

Swisher and her team solve for this challenge by first formatting articles using their Simplified English standard, including consistent reference to medical terminology using their master database of terms.

After simplifying articles, local translation is much easier since contributors remove most of the unnecessary jargon.


Since the developing world has limited access to computer and the internet, Swisher explained how group needs to convince telecom carriers to provide Wikipedia access free of charge. One method is SMS access using Wikipedia Zero.

Recent Successes

Swisher reported in on the project’s current successes:

  • Translated and published 2.2 million words
  • Simplified medical articles and translations into 50 different languages
  • Standardization of 10,000 simplified medical terms for contributor use

Swisher explained that there is still much more work to be done! Moving forward, the team has a mission to have all information available by 2015.

How Can We Help?

Volunteer your time! Regardless of your skill set, there’s plenty of work to be done.

If not content, our cash can help too. Get in touch with Val directly (val[at]translatorswithoutborders[dot]org) today to learn more about how to contribute.