Date: Jan 11, 2023
Accent on Languages would like to address the recent news article regarding our translation quality in Iñupiaq and Yup’ik requested by FEMA.
First, we make no excuses for erroneous translations, and we deeply regret any inconvenience this has caused to the local community. As a language service provider that prides itself in top quality translation and client services, and given our goal of providing translations to support FEMA’s emergency communications, hearing that there may have been issues with our work was horrifying. This was a very unfortunate incident that has never happened before in Accent’s 30 years of operation, and we do not intend to ever allow it to occur in the future. Accent on Languages is also doing what it can to correct the situation, including by refunding FEMA’s payment for the translations in question.
Second, the article was factually incorrect regarding payment amounts, among other issues. Although the writer claimed Accent was paid $27,800, this was only a potential cap for future orders and was never actually fully paid out. The order expired before FEMA made full use of the total amount. FEMA actually paid Accent $5,116.41 for translations of multiple documents into several languages. Out of the $5,116.41 invoiced by Accent, a total of $3,385.13 was used for multiple Iñupiaq and Yup’ik translations. However, Accent on Languages is issuing a full refund for the translations of these two languages to FEMA and is working with the Contracting Officer to finalize this process.
Accent heard from FEMA regarding the potentially erroneous translations in late October of 2022, and upon learning of this issue, we immediately conducted an internal investigation. Accent also contacted a new team of translators to produce brand new translations from scratch, at no additional cost to FEMA and at Accent’s initiative. The linguists who produced the new translations signed certifications and affidavits. During this process, Accent on Languages reached out to numerous academic institutions in Alaska, local agencies, as well as members of the local community, social media sites, and other resources in order to resolve the issues as quickly as possible. Subsequently, Accent provided a plan of corrective actions to FEMA, together with the brand new, certified versions of the translations volunteered by Accent at no additional cost.
It is worth noting Accent initiated the process to replace the translations and was willing to absorb the additional cost without waiting for the internal review to corroborate the issues, in order to speed up the process and ensure accurate translations would be available to the public as soon as possible.
Accent entered into this task order with the commitment in the forefront to help the indigenous and native languages of Alaska, not only to just merely help these languages survive, but to help these languages and cultures thrive. As painful as it was to learn about the mistakes, Accent did not waver on this commitment and pressed on, dedicating dozens of hours to correcting the issue to the best of our ability in order to make things right not just to our customer from a business perspective, but for the people of Alaska.
As a small business, we pride ourselves in our ethics and professionalism, and while the costs of this project quickly overcame the fees we were going to get paid even before we issued the full refund, we certainly did not want to charge our customer for a product that did not meet the desired specifications. Accent’s ultimate goal always was to help FEMA send the right message to support the local people of Alaska in response to this natural disaster.
As a small, woman- and minority-owned business, the interests of the community are always close to our heart. The success of our company has always been based on the trust we have built over many decades of serving the community and our customers. The voice of the community matters deeply to us and we sincerely apologize for any issues that occurred with this support of FEMA and its mission to help those in need. We have taken actions to prevent this from happening again. Accent also welcomes any opportunity to speak to local community members directly to share what we’ve learned, and to discuss how we could do better for the community in the future.
If you are a local community member and would like to reach out to Accent regarding this matter or to ask any questions about our language services, please do not hesitate to email us at email@example.com.
Thank you for your time and attention.
CEO of Accent on Languages