New Language Captions for Health Videos: Translation Update

Approximately eight weeks ago, we put out an appeal to our global community: help us translate two of our video collections into other languages. Our vision: make some of our educational content more accessible to non-English speakers. We decided to target 31 videos from our collection: 12 clinical microbiology videos co-authored by instructors in Ghana and Michigan and 19 disaster management videos co-authored by seven schools of public health in East Africa. We chose these two collections because they were both collaboratively authored by educators in multiple countries and they both had already attracted an audience in countries where English is not the native language.

Image CC BY NC SA Tobias Mikkelsen (Flickr)

Our community responded to the call with tremendous enthusiasm. We are very grateful to our collaborators Philomena and Julie at the Language Resource Center, who helped us recruit local multilingual talent through the Translate-A-Bowl and the Language Bank. We also received many responses from outside University of Michigan through the connections we have developed around the world as part of our Open.Michigan outreach and institutional partnerships.

The translation campaign was an enormous success.

Now we have 70 caption tracks in other languages: 28 in Spanish, 16 in Portuguese, 14 in French, 7 in Russian, 2 in Danish, 2 in Swahili, and 1 in Luganda. Woo hoo! Most captions were completed by a single translator, but some had two: one to translate and one to review.

Through this translation experiment,  we have learned a lot about the processes for crowd-sourcing captions and translations. Additionally, we have affirmed the importance of captioning for increasing accessibility, for improved ease of searching within videos, and for enabling translations. We have already begun adding English captions to additional videos in our collection for further translation activities and have even added a tag “multilingual” for our learning materials to make them easier to identify.

It’s not too late to get involved. 

We will continue to invite translators for those 31 videos and will post new languages as the translations are completed. Volunteers can sign up to translate at:

Details: Volunteer roster

To date, we have had 34 volunteers sign-up. Of those volunteers, so far 21 people have completed at least one caption. Here is the team roster:

  • Samuel Scherber – 12 videos – French
  • Liliane Tambasco – 10 videos – Brazilian Portuguese
  • Andre Scholze – 8 videos – Brazilian Portuguese
  • Juliana Salomón, BA, Argentina – 8 videos – Spanish
  • Maria A. Ramos – 7 videos – Spanish
  • Sonia Ordóñez – 6 videos – Spanish
  • Ksenia Skrypnik, Russian Cancer Research Center – 4 videos – Russian
  • Jennifer Alonso, translator – 3 videos – Spanish
  • Sophia Shishatskaya, English- and French-Russian translator – 3 videos – Russian
  • Philomena Meechan – 2 videos – Spanish
  • Renata Lucena Dalmaso, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina/University of Michigan, Fulbright PhD Student – 2 videos – Brazilian Portuguese
  • S. B. Swae, Michigan Undergraduate, Linguistics – 2 videos – Spanish
  • Dr. Gabriela Gorelik, University of Michigan – 2 videos – Spanish
  • Beatrix M. G. Nielsen, University of Copenhagen – 2 videos – Danish
  • Laura Laborda Martínez – 2 videos – Spanish
  • Paula Corbacho, IES Lenguas Vivas “J R Fernández”, Buenos Aires, Argentina – 2 videos – Spanish
  • Eve Nabulya, Makerere University – 1 video – Luganda
  • Nixon Opiyo Omollo, translator – 1 video – Swahili
  • Sarah Labetoulle – 1 video – French
  • Schuyler Cyprian Wood, SUNY Downstate Medical Center – 1 video – Swahili
  • Kathleen Ludewig Omollo, University of Michigan – 1 video – French

To our outstanding volunteers: Thank you very much! Muchas gracias. Obrigado. Merci bien. спасибо. Mange tak. Asanteni sana. Mweebale. (I hope I got those right!) Your contribution makes a big impact in increasing access to and visibility of these videos around the world. We are delighted that we are now able to to share these videos with an even wider audience of learners and educators around the world.

I would also like to acknowledge some of our Open.Michigan student staff who completed the essential first step of adding English captions to those 31 videos so that we had a foundation for other language tracks:

  • Trisha Paul
  • Andrea Matsumoto
  • Bilal Baydoun
Image CC BY woodleywonderworks (Flickr)

Details: Languages, per video

Here is a review of the languages per video:

Collection: Laboratory Methods for Clinical Microbiology

Video Caption Languages
Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) English, French, Danish
Intro to Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) English, French, Spanish, Russian
Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) English, French, Spanish, Russian
Enzyme immunoassay (EIA) to detect antigens English, French, Spanish
Agglutination assay to detect antigens English, French, Spanish
Staining of a Gram-Positive Bacterium English,  French, Spanish, Russian, Danish, Swahili
Staining of a Gram-Negative Bacterium English, French, Spanish, Russian
Measuring Serum Antibody with an Agglutination Assay English, French, Spanish
How to Prepare a Gram Stain English, French, Spanish
Microscopic Staining for Blood Parasites English, French, Spanish
Fecal Parasite Examination – The Formol-Ether Concentration English, French
Preparing an Acid-Fast Stain using the Ziehl-Nielsen Method English, French


Collection: Public Health Emergency Planning and Management for Districts

Video Caption Languages
1.1a: Intro to Disaster Management Training English, Spanish, Portuguese, Swahili, Luganda
1.1d: Introduction to Disasters English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
1.2a: Epidemics English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian
1.2b: Epi-zoonotic Diseases of Importance in the Region English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian
1.2b: Introduction to Epi-zoonotic Diseases English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian
2.1: Principles of Disaster Risk Reduction English, Spanish, Portuguese
2.2: Communication in Disaster Situations English, Spanish, Portuguese
2.2: Mass Casualty Incidents English, Spanish, Portuguese
2.3a: Complex Emergencies English, Spanish, Portuguese
2.3b: Rapid Needs Assessment English, Spanish, Portuguese
3.1: Fire English, Spanish, Portuguese
3.2: Policy Framework for Disaster Management English, Spanish, Portuguese
3.3a: Introduction to the SPHERE Standards English, Spanish
3.4a: Principles of Disaster Planning English, Spanish, Portuguese
3.5a: Settlement of Displaced Populations English, Spanish, Portuguese
3.5b: Drought and Water Scarcity English, Spanish, Portuguese
3.5c: Floods and Landslides English, Spanish, Portuguese
4.1: Developing Your District Disaster Plan English, French, Spanish
5.1: Writing the Plan English, Spanish


4 thoughts on “New Language Captions for Health Videos: Translation Update

  1. Thank you to our peers at U-M for helping to promote the tremendous results from this translation pilot:
    – UMHS Headlines:
    – LSA Translation Theme Semester:
    – Group for Research in Infotech and Development:
    – Global REACH:
    – School of Public Health Global Public Health program:

    We’re also honored to be included in the Translation in the IT Environment collection:


  2. Hi Kathleen

    Great initiative! We publicised your call to people who had registered for our Open Translation MOOC ( and hope some took up the challenge. It would be good to find out more from you on how you will be taking this forward and whether you have plans to replicate this initiative with other OER collections.


  3. Wonderful. Thank you, Anna.

    We’re still inviting translations for the microbiology and disaster management videos.

    We’ve also started recruiting translations for collection of family medicine videos, which are now included in the sign-up form.

    In addition, all of our YouTube videos now have translation invitations/links.

    We have a translation project page now at


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