Hurricanes. Floods. Earthquakes. Forest fires. With all the recent natural disasters overwhelming multiple areas across North America, it may be a good time for companies to revisit their disaster recovery plans, especially when it comes to communication.

Does your disaster recovery plan consider how to communicate with residents or customers in the face of an emergency? Does it also include how you will communicate to residents or customers who don’t speak English? Let’s look at a few disaster responses to see how important it is to consider these demographics in an official plan.

Case #1:

Voiance recently translated several public safety documents for a government agency in advance of a category-4 hurricane that caused the evacuation of more than 2 million people. Voiance’s fast response made it possible for the agency to provide instructions to the limited-English proficient population in 14 different languages before the hurricane hit.

Case #2:

The State of Florida did not account for limited-English speakers in its emergency plans for Hurricane Irma. 72.8 percent of Miami-Dade’s 2.6 million residents speak a language other than English, and there were no translated materials prepared ahead of time to help these residents know how to respond safely during the aftermath.

Thankfully, officials were able to work with the same translation organizations they previously had and access translation memory from other translation projects in the past.  Even though the hurricane had already hit, officials and translation organizations worked quickly to repurpose old emergency materials for breaking down this communication barrier.

How Can You Apply this to Your Disaster Recovery Plan?

Knowing the most commonly spoken languages of a population and creating translated documents before any type of disaster could be a great addition to your disaster recovery plans. Keeping these documents on hand and updating them as often as you revisit your plans will minimize any loss of communication and added panic during an already stressful situation. Translated documents distributed before a disaster could also help non-English speakers better prepare and learn the necessary information before anything happens.

Want to learn more about Voiance’s translation services and how we might be able to help you? Email or submit your project for a quote at