HL7 proposed policy for submission of non-US english vocabulary

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Non-English Language Vocabulary Submissions to HL7

Introduction

HL7 does not currently have a policy to specifically address requests for addition to HL7 managed concept domains in languages other than US English. While the vocabulary harmonization checklist identifies foreign languages as a consideration, there is no stated policy on how these vocabulary requests will be addressed. This issue impacts potential submission requests to other terminology SDOs such as SNOMED and LOINC as well as a potential additional burden on terminology management for HL7 maintained terminology.

The purpose of this Wiki page is to collect initial points of consideration and then be reformatted into a policy document that will be incorporated into the appropriate foundation document as a standard.

Discussion Points/Assumptions

  1. HL7 does not have a formal policy on how to respond to requests for foreign language (i.e. non-US english) vocabulary terms.
  2. The current distribution language for the normative standards is US-english.
  3. Acceptance of foreign language vocabulary by HL7 for inclusion in value sets places an additional management burden on the current limited resouces.
  4. HL7 does not have resources to validate any translation of existing english terminology to a foreign language
  5. Countries that require terminology in a non-english language already have internal mechanisms for handling translations.
  6. Terminology submissions to external SDOs such as SNOMED require US-english. In many cases, translation of the standard terminology is handled by agreements with other countries rahter than centrally managed.
  7. HL7's vocabulary repository and MIF vocabulary representations support capture of display names and description information in multiple languages. (MIF even supports language-specific code strings)
  8. It is not clear how well existing vocabulary tooling will support strings with character sets outside of standard ASCII
  9. HL7's publication tooling for rendering vocabulary information has no ability to differentiate content by language.

Initial Proposal for Policy

  1. All vocabulary submissions (the forms, rationale, etc.) submitted to harmonization must be expressed in US English because that is the working language of HL7 International
  2. All new codes and other vocabulary artifacts submitted for inclusion in an HL7 maintained code system, or submitted to be passed through HL7 to other terminology bodies such as IHTSDO must provide US English display names, definitions and other descriptive text
  3. Responsibility for translation of HL7-maintained vocabulary content into other languages is the responsibility of HL7 Affiliates, as is the responsibility for maintaining those translations

Issue

Will HL7 accept submission of foreign language translations for display names, definitions or other descriptive text for HL7 vocabulary artifacts at harmonization for inclusion in and distribution with the official HL7 vocabulary publication in the HL7 normative editions, HL7 repository, etc.?

Recommendation

Yes. However:

  • Such proposals will *only* be accepted after the original content has passed harmonization and been applied to the HL7 repository, reflecting any definition or other wording changes that originate as part of the harmonization process
  • Such proposals *must* be submitted by an HL7 affiliate who can attest that due diligence has been performed on the translation text. Submissions by individuals, other SDOs and workgroups will not be accepted.
  • Such proposals *must* be submitted using the vocabulary XML format designated by the Vocabulary Work Group and must have been tested by the submitting affiliate to successfully load
  • HL7 will include a caveat in the published documentation and MIF header noting that the US English variants are the official 'normative' standard terms and that accuracy of translations is not guaranteed
    • Affiliates may designate a particular translation or group of translations as 'official' for a given affiliate realm.
  • Such translations will be treated as technical corrections and will not require vote unless a concern is raised by a voter at the harmonization meeting

Endorsed by Affiliate Council 20110109, with request they be involved in trialing the process.

  • In the event a US-English term or description is changed subsequent to a translation being applied, the translations will be flagged as "out of date" until such time as they are replaced by the submission of a new translation.

20100112 Joint MnM/Vocab Motion: Approve the above set of principles for handling translations: Lloyd/Sandy - 9/0/0