JBI Studios' Blog on Voice-Over, Dubbing, and Multimedia Localization.

4 Tips to Ensure Accurate Localized Life Sciences & Medical Voice-Over

Medical and life sciences content localization is complex and technical, requires specialized linguists, and demands rigorous accuracy. Peoples’ well-being and even their lives depend on it. So the localized voice-over in these multimedia suites has to be perfect – despite the content difficulty. Fortunately there are a few things you can do to ensure accuracy.

Start with these 4 tips to ensure accurate medical & life sciences multimedia localization.

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Voice-over in localized medical content

Multimedia use in all the different medical fields – from biomedical to pharmaceutical – has exploded in the last 15 years. Why? To start, multimedia is great for relaying complex information to an audience, and companies are using it for everything from instructional videos to marketing collateral. Second, as the American with Disabilities Act keeps ramping up accessibility requirements, a lot of medical documentation is getting converted to audio files for the blind and sight-impaired – everything from health care plan guide books to coverage letters. Text-to-speech (TTS) voices have been particularly useful for making this content accessible.

Most life sciences corporations also operate internationally, meaning that they must localize all of this content for overseas customers, medical professionals and employees. At the same time, health care providers in the US must also localize for their non-native English-speaking populations – in some states, it’s the law.

In short, there's already a lot of multimedia content localize, and that amount is going to increase. Let's look at the 4 ways to ensure it's accurate.

1. Understand just how tricky pronunciation is for this content.

Scripts can contain advanced biomedical terms, equations, abbreviations, and acronyms – this alone means that getting pronunciation right is going to be tough. Some specific types of content have additional challenges – for example:

  • Instructional videos for medical & surgical equipment: The scripts for these videos or e-Learning courses are particularly dense because they’re written by medical professionals, for medical professionals.
  • Health plan patient documents: Most of this documentation is patient-facing, so the writing is relatively straight-forward. However, it contains lists of drugs with branded names, as well doctors’ names and their office addresses. The latter are especially difficult to get right, even in an English voiceover session. But in a session with a foreign-language native speaker, the difficulty is much greater. For example, a Japanese voice-over talent may not be a fluent reader of the Latin alphabet, so he or she may have a difficult time even accessing reference audio clips.

So what can you do? Allow enough time in your prep for pronunciation – you may have to record reference audio clips, and create phonetic lists. And the sessions may take a little longer as talents and directors reference the pronunciation guidelines.

2. Leverage terminology glossaries for pronunciation.

Translation professionals already know this – glossaries are crucial for consistency on everything from procedure names to drug brands, to patient scripts and legal compliance documentation. Aside from their translation benefits, glossaries provide a basis for pronunciation guidelines, especially for English-language or proprietary terms that won’t be translated.

3. Engage in-country subject matter experts & marketing contacts.

You may have an in-country team already – if so, involving them will increase accuracy dramatically. For starters, your in-country medical experts will be critical to creating terminology glossaries. And any in-country marketing contacts will have invaluable insight on local pronunciations for brand and product names.

4. Pick video voice-over options that allow translation accuracy.

Lip-sync dubbing produces amazing results, which is why localization managers gravitate towards it for their client-facing videos, patient testimonials, internal employee communications, and just about everything else. But it also has a draw-back – script translations have to be edited to match lip movements, sometimes heavily. In a field that requires rigorous translation accuracy, this causes issues.

Still from medical instructional video -- a male doctor wearing a lab coat speaks with a female pharmaceutical representative.

Fortunately, there are other professional video options that require less editing for timing. Patient testimonials or interviews? Consider UN-style voice-over, which is the standard for news and documentaries. Client-facing videos with a presenter? Consider a transceated video production, especially if your English uses a green-screen background. If you can shoot multiple languages in one day, this option may be quite cost-effective.

Bonus tip – plan for involved quality assurance rounds

Rigorous quality assurance should be part of any foreign-language audio recording or video dubbing – and of any multimedia localization project. It’s a part of every single production at JBI Studios. Voice talents, directors and studio engineers are human, after all, and even the most diligent ones miss the occasional error, especially when recording hundreds of thousands of words of difficult content – which is not unusual in the medical or health services fields. It’s true of any project, but especially so for this content – a rigorous QA workflow is critical to ensuring localization accuracy and quality.

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Topics: Voice-over & Audio Translation & Localization