Hong Kong TransLingual Services is a social enterprise operated by HKSKH Lady MacLehose Centre since 2010. It aims to achieve social inclusion in Hong Kong by providing translation and interpretation services to ethnic minorities and the deaf, and providing promising employment to educated ethnic minorities.
As of 2016, there were 584,383 ethnic minorities in Hong Kong and most of them were engaged in non-skilled jobs (Census Department, 2017). Although the ethnic minority groups have lived in Hong Kong for decades, social inclusion remains a challenge. The ethnic minorities are often being discriminated against in the workplace. For example, they are not offered jobs because of their ethnicity or deficiency in Chinese language, and they are often assigned work that is more dangerous, difficult, and dirtier than their ethnic Chinese colleagues (CCSG & Policy 21, 2012). Also, because of their underemployment or unemployment, ethnic minorities are generally living below the poverty line (Census and Statistics Department, 2018), so ethnic minority children are vulnerable to intergenerational poverty (EOC, 2017).
Hong Kong TransLingual Services has been working to eliminate language barriers between the ethnic minorities and the ethnic Chinese. It provides on-site interpretation, telephone interpretation, video conference interpretation and written translation services for its customers. Its users range from government agencies, hospitals and clinics to NGOs and private enterprises. Its services cover 19 languages, including Nepali, Urdu and Hindi, which are the common languages spoken by ethnic minorities. As a member of the International Medical Interpreters Association, Hong Kong TransLingual Services has provided professional trainings to its interpreters to ensure their quality of the services. Apart from providing these services to its users, Hong Kong TransLingual Services also employs ethnic minorities with higher education as translators and interpreters, so that they are not constrained to low-income labour work. Moreover, Hong Kong TransLingual Services provides sign language interpretation for the deaf, so they can receive accurate information and have good communication with other people, especially in hospitals where medics need to know about their conditions precisely.
Since its establishment, Hong Kong TransLingual Services has handled more than 100,000 cases, and hired over 120 ethnic minority staff members. They also serve as a service provider of interpretation services, including sign language and languages spoken by ethnic minorities, for the Hospital Authority. Moreover, Hong Kong TransLingual Services has been highly commended for its work to promote social inclusion and overcome communication barriers. In 2014, Hong Kong TransLingual Services received the Intermediate Level of Social Enterprise Endorsement Mark by Hong Kong General Chamber of Social Enterprises. It was also awarded the Merit Award in the category of Social Enterprise of the 6th Hong Kong Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Awards organised by Hong Kong Productivity Council, and the Outstanding Social Impact Award and Outstanding Social Enterprise – the 2nd runner-up in the Social Enterprise Award Scheme 2017 by Home Affairs Bureau.
Census and Statistics Department. Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report on Ethnic Minorities 2016. https://www.statistics.gov.hk/pub/B9XX0004E2016XXXXE0100.pdf. Accessed 20 July 2021.
Census Department. (2017). Thematic Report: Ethnic Minorities. https://www.bycensus2016.gov.hk/data/16bc-ethnic-minorities.pdf. Accessed 20 July 2021.
Centre for Civil Society and Governance, HKU & Policy 21. (2012). Research on inter-ethnicity contact and experiences of discrimination among ethnic South Asians. (有關南亞裔人士對種族之間接觸及歧視經驗的研究). https://www.eoc.org.hk/EOC/Upload/UserFiles/File/ResearchReport/201203/Race_cFull%20Report.pdf. Accessed 20 July 2021.
Equal Opportunities Commission. (2017, June 13). Subcommittee on Rights of Ethnic Minorities: Poverty Problems of Ethnic Minorities. https://www.legco.gov.hk/yr16-17/english/hc/sub_com/hs52/papers/hs5220170710cb2-1833-1-e.pdf. Accessed 20 July 2021.