Going zero waste in the office

Nowadays going zero waste is one of the most popular trends – luckily it is one of the most progressive ones as well. You can read many articles on how to apply zero waste policies in your home, but have you ever considered how you can do this in the office? Or, as a manager, how you could support your office in achieving this? In this blog entry, we will look at some tips and tricks to transform your office into a sustainable work environment.

Of course, the first step is the hardest, but there are productive methods to take this initial leap of faith. Setting up a target can be inclusive enough to have every colleague involved in the action, even some sort of a mission statement can be released – nothing serious, but in addition to providing a precise framework for your quest, it can be published on the website as well, inviting your partners to join with your initiative. It might be surprising, but you should start your zero-waste policy by decluttering – how could you maintain a zero-waste environment when the office itself is full of things you don’t use anymore? Get rid of everything unnecessary – but don’t forget about recycling or reusing items, even at this stage.

Maybe the most wasteful area in an office is paper management, so it is imperative to minimise paper waste as much as possible. First and foremost, printing should be avoided as much as possible. While printing cannot be entirely eliminated from the office workflow, you can store files only in their digital form (e.g. cloud storage), and if printing is necessary, use recycled paper and two-sided printing settings. Unused or faulty prints can later be perfect for taking notes. By the way, be aware when using post-it notes as these might not be acceptable for recycling – contact your local authorities for further information and reuse paper waste or opt for digital apps for note-taking. You can go zero waste with your office supplies as well. Try to use refillable printer consumables, pens, and choose highlighter pencils instead of disposable highlighters.

Another important aspect of going zero waste is waste control. We tend to use an immense amount of plastic, so eliminating it from the office is not just a crucial step but also one of the most easily achievable. Ban plastic kitchenware from the kitchen, it can give a personal touch if every colleague has their own mugs and/or glasses for drinking. Forget about coffee capsules as well as you might not even notice how much plastic you throw away – substitute these with instant coffee (but not sachets of coffee!) for quick refreshment. Teabags can generate as much waste as capsules, so it is worth substituting them with tea leaves. Naturally, one of the key elements of a zero-waste office is to collect recyclable waste separately. It might help the efficiency of this method if you provide some quick guidelines on what and how to separate. This can be complemented by composting – small composting containers can be installed in the office or near the office where organic waste can be collected and transformed into fertilised soil. This way, the amount of communal waste is significantly reduced, while recycling techniques might be implemented, even outside the office. While it might not seem relevant at first, a flexible lunchtime that allows for employees to lunch out not only reduces resource use in the office, but it can also be refreshing for the employees to leave for a short while.

It might take some time to find those measures that can be successfully adapted in the workflow and lifestyle of your office, but it is worth gradually including sustainability among the core values of your business. Regardless of whether you try to make the first step, or you would like to expand your eco-friendly tools in the office, several environmental organisations (e.g. WWF) provide guidelines, programmes and certifications to help you reach your set target.

Written by Zsolt Beke

Events with sign language interpretation – practical tips for organisers

Most of us associate sign language interpretation with a person gesticulating in the corner of the screen during a television broadcast of a speech or another event of major importance. However, sign language interpretation is guided by the same basic principle as other forms of interpretation – mediation between languages. In most cases it involves mediation between a spoken language and sign language. Nevertheless, the particular features of sign language mean that organisers have to take a number of important issues into account. This blog post takes a look at some of these challenges.

First of all, just like for spoken language interpretation, it is important to clarify the basics – i.e. the target language and whether consecutive or simultaneous interpretation should be used. Rather than one universal sign language, there are in fact almost 140 different sign languages across the world, with many local dialects. Establishing which sign language is the target language is therefore vital. It should also be noted that sign language can be mediated as fluently as spoken language, so simultaneous interpretation is indeed an option.

One of the key features of sign language is its use of gestures and non-manual expressions. When choosing and preparing a venue, the position of the sign language interpreter is therefore of paramount importance. While a spoken language interpreter does not even need to be in the same room as the speaker, sign language interpreters have to be positioned up front where both the interpreter and the presentation can be seen. Of course, visibility can be enhanced by reserving places for members of the audience who are hard of hearing, allowing the interpreter to address them directly, or screens can be used. Whichever option you choose, it is important to create an environment where equal opportunities means not only that sign language interpretation is available, but that members of the audience who are hard of hearing can learn from and enjoy the event as much as their hearing colleagues.

Given the demanding nature of interpretation, interpreters often work in pairs, especially if the event is long or requires particular expertise. Due to its physicality, sign language interpretation is especially tiring for the interpreter. When planning an event with sign language interpretation, you should be aware of that aspect and make sure to book a sufficient number of interpreters.

Finally, working together with the client and the presenters is also of utmost importance. It is essential for background documents, summaries and even the presentations themselves to be provided to the greatest possible extent, since questions such as names of organisations and terminology (e.g. whether fingerspelling or a sign counterpart should be used) require background work and might present difficulties on the spot. Of course, provision of supplemental materials is strongly advisable when you organise any form of interpretation, but for sign language interpretation you should make doubly sure that the interpreters can use an array of documents and glossaries for preparation.

While event interpretation is an important part of sign language interpretation, Deaf culture as a minority culture often uses sign interpreters for navigating and facilitating everyday life. However, the challenges there revolve not so much around technical or practical issues as the need to keep on improving availability and accessibility.

Written by Zsolt Beke

Easy to read, not so easy to do

At Eurideas we translate several thousands of words every day, but our routine and experience doesn’t mean that we don’t face interesting challenges which require a new approach and a different way of thinking. A Communication and PR consultancy in Brussels knocked on our door recently with an unusual request: they asked us to proofread the translation of a text about the European Union in 22 languages, following easy-to-read guidelines.

What does this mean exactly? People with intellectual disabilities have the right to obtain information that is easy to read and understand, so that they can learn new things, take part in society, stand up for their rights, and make their own choices. Texts written for this special target group are usually indicated as ERV (easy-to-read version) and should follow certain rules. The sentences need to be short and simple, the words used need to be common and easy to understand and should be used consistently through the document. The formal aspects are also important: one line should contain only one piece of information.

The growing tendency to consider and address the needs of social groups with special needs is welcome, and not only does it mean an exciting challenge but also a great honour for us to contribute towards this mission. After all, it is not common for a translation agency to receive an assignment that is so important in terms of social responsibility.

Of course, we had to approach this project differently from an “everyday” proofreading. Given the sensitivity and importance of this task, it required additional skills from the linguists, flexibility and empathy – we needed to rethink our usual working methods, put ourselves in the readers’ shoes, and consider the possible difficulties more than ever. Asking for background documents and doing research on the topic of the translation is always important, but it was particularly essential in this case. Luckily, our client provided us with the relevant guidelines to begin with, which we supplemented with additional information and instructions for the linguists.

Speaking of these, another crucial point of this project was choosing the most suitable proofreaders for the job. We needed open-minded and flexible linguists. It was very important to make them understand that this time, we didn’t expect them to change a sentence because it was grammatically incorrect, but also because it should meet the needs of a special target group.

Although the topic of the text was the European Union, it would have not been the best choice to rely on the linguists we usually work with on EU-related documents, as these are normally quite complicated texts, with long, compound sentences and an overwhelming amount of technical terms. Instead, we preferred linguists with a background in pedagogy or social studies who have a better understanding of people living with intellectual disabilities and their needs.

I’m happy to say that, in the end, the client was happy with the results and the translations have been published on the europa.eu website. We are very grateful to have this opportunity to contribute to supporting people with intellectual disabilities. We are always open to new challenges and look forward to receiving requests which require a different approach.

Written by Kata Vas, Project Supervisor at Eurideas Language Experts

The final version of EU Copyright Directive ready, uncertainties remain

Following months of debates around the new Copyright Directive of the European Union, the negotiators agreed on a final text on the 13 February 2019. While awaiting formal confirmation, we give an overview of what changes can be expected in content sharing.

Caught in the act?

Originally, the aim of the Directive was the fair remuneration of copyright holders in the digital era, therefore, it focuses on for-profit businesses that stream music, offer video-on-demand services, aggregate news or host user-generated content. These platforms need to contribute to a level playing field by complying with new rules which they widely criticise.

According to Article 11, social sites, news aggregators, or media monitoring service providers are only allowed to publish a hyperlink without a photo or a snippet, unless they obtain licenses from copyright owners first.

Meanwhile, Article 13 goes after the platforms that host user-generated content, making them accountable for any copyright infringements their users might commit. To comply, platforms need to weed out copyrighted content, acquire license agreements from authors, and remove content as necessary.

In the crosshairs are allegedly giant corporations such as YouTube, Twitter or Facebook, and to cut some of their revenues to the benefit of authors. These corporations will have to heavily invest in upload filters and to nod to any license agreement they are offered by publishers.

Winners and losers

Smaller companies, lacking the financial resources and maneuvering options of the giants, will likely skip the expensive upload filters and licenses and, to stay on the safe side, rather sacrifice creative ideas or give in on business altogether. Only if the business is considered a startup by the legislation (has less than USD 10mn yearly turnover, is less than three years in operation or has no more than 5 million monthly unique visitors), will there be more options and less strict consequences for them.

NGOs, educational and research organizations and non-profit encyclopedias like Wikipedia, are also exemptions. No scientific paper has to pay “link taxes”, researchers are allowed text and data mining, and educators to use digital material across the borders without having to pay for copyright. But these institutions still fall under Article 13 and have to be careful with online content sharing.

The Directive also claims to reinforce individual user interests as they don’t have to worry about using copyrighted content due to new licensing rules and upload filters. They will also “continue to enjoy and share news hyperlinks as they do today.” However, critics insist the freedom of self-expression will suffer and envision platforms playing “content police” to prevail.

And it is still not the end of the story: the European Parliament and the Council will cast their votes about the Directive in March/April. And even if they vote in favour of it, there is a lot of uncertainty about practical issues that the Commission has to rule out, by issuing guidelines on the application.

Written by Anikó Jóri-Molnár