New ASTM Committee to Develop Standards for Language Services



New ASTM Committee to Develop Standards for Language Services

Translation, Interpretation, Proficiency and Foreign Language Instruction to Be Addressed

W. CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa., February 8, 2011—Newly formed ASTM International Committee F43 on Foreign Language Services and Products will develop standards that promote best practices for users and providers of language services and products. The new standards development group will also serve as a resource on language translation and proficiency for law enforcement, intelligence and other federal agencies.

Meeting the Needs of a Multilingual World

The language services and products industry encompasses translation, interpretation, language training, machine translation, language testing and human language technology (technologies designed to replicate and respond to the human voice). During the past 15 years, the industry has experienced rapid growth and demands for standards have accompanied that growth. Standards are needed to promote quality and the ability to communicate effectively in different languages for economic, security, and diplomatic reasons.

Providing Quality and Assessment Standards

In the mid-2000s, three ASTM standards were initially developed under the auspices of ASTM Committee F15 on Consumer Products to assist those who purchase and provide language services and products. However, government agencies — including the Department of Defense and the Pentagon’s Defense Language Institute — requested the development of consensus standards to evaluate job performance testing, translation output and the quality of translation services and products. Those requests were supported by academic and professional organizations — including the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, the Joint National Council on Languages, the Interagency Language Roundtable and the American Translators Association.


Bill Rivers, chief scientist at Integrated Training Solutions and chief linguist for the National Language Service Corps, both based in Arlington, Va., comments, We had enough of a critical mass to form a full committee to serve all our constituents.” Rivers is the chairman of the new ASTM committee.

F43 Focus

ASTM Committee F43 on Foreign Language Services and Products will address language interpretation, translation, proficiency and foreign language instruction. In addition to maintaining and updating existing language standards, the new committee will work with health care, court and other interpreters and translators to tailor new performance standards to their particular environments. F43 will also develop standards to assess new Interagency Language Roundtable guidelines covering translation, interpretation, cultural proficiency and other topics. Additionally, standards will be developed to address performance testing, to test K-12 student foreign language proficiency, to assess language training programs, and to help companies and organizations determine the cultural and language needs of employees operating in foreign countries.


ASTM Committee F43 will hold its first organizational meeting on Feb. 17 at the University of Maryland National Foreign Language Center (NFLC), in College Park, Md. For more information, visit Feedback, comments and questions should be directed to Ashley Wiand, ASTM International (phone: 610-832-9551;

ASTM International is one of the largest international standards development and delivery systems in the world. ASTM International meets the World Trade Organization (WTO) principles for the development of international standards: coherence, consensus, development dimension, effectiveness, impartiality, openness, relevance and transparency. ASTM standards are accepted and used in research and development, product testing, quality systems and commercial transactions.

ASTM Staff Contact: Ashley Wiand, Phone: 610-832-9551;

ASTM PR Contact: Barbara Schindler, Phone: 610-832-9603;

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