(Marie:) "One of my aunts, who was born in Vietnam and now lives in France, has been hospitalized for Covid-19. She speaks French, but when it came to medical symptoms and history, I realized she was clueless to this very specific vocabulary. Then I thought about all the recently immigrated persons, who seek medical help in a foreign country, with a limited knowledge of the official language there: there can't realistically be a translator with health professionals at all times! And misunderstanding in this situation can have a huge impact on diagnostic and treatment.

To make communication easier between health professionals and patients over a language barrier, I decided to create cards with translations from French to the most spoken languages in the country, as well as visual support with icons and pictures."

What it does

Trad-19 is an open-source Covid-19 pocket translator for health professionals

  • Web application (free and no registration)
  • Ready to use from today, with translations from French and English
  • Access via mobile and desktop
  • 40 translated and illustrated keywords related to Covid-19 diagnostic
  • Including symptoms, medical history and evaluation
  • Translations from French to the 6 most-spoken languages in the country
  • Translations by volunteers in their native language
  • 17 icons and pictures for a visual language support
  • Open-source for anyone to adapt the concept to their own languages combinations

How we built it

Step 1 - At first, we created a template of PDF cards for hospitals to print and distribute internally

Step 2 - A network of volunteers jumped in to translate in their native language, in French, Arabic, English, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Romanian. We all collaborated on the translations with Google Sheets.

Step 3 - Following team's idea, we looked for a way to make it a Web app, and quickly managed to create a first version with Glide

Challenges we ran into

Not being professional translators ourselves, we were lucky people jumped in to help with proof-reading and translations.

We didn't know anything about app development, and I was happy to find Glide, which really allowed us to do what we needed, from the Google Sheets collaborative translation document.

Making sure the app is available to the health professionals at the right time is the next challenge, and we are not sure how to do that.

Accomplishments that we are proud of

Meeting so many volunteers to help with the project, and being able to create a Web app from scratch!

What we learned

There are amazing tools to help build useful products even without coding: Glide is our new favorite!

Building a product is a great process, but making sure it reaches the right audience at the right moment is a different subject, which we are not always familiar with.

Solidarity is powerful, and gets people to accomplish extraordinary things together, and in very short times. We met great people over this Trad-19 experience, and am proud and thankful to count them among my contacts.

What's next for Trad-19

We believe language barriers will be even more important within communities who have recently migrated. The UNHCR estimates there were 25,9 million refugees in the world, and 3,5 million asylum-seekers in June 2019*. Thinking about all these displaced people, we want to facilitate the expansion of the concept and propose translations to and from more languages.

  • Propose more to and from languages
  • Allow to set to and from languages in Settings (would require a personal sign-in?)
  • Make the Glide and Google Sheets templates public for anyone to develop the concept in their own country/languages (process initiated)
  • Find partners to share the link and make the product available on the field, where it is needed (We have started contacting public health NGOs)

Trad-19 is a citizen's initiative, and relies only on volunteers around the world. The development of the app uses the free version of Glide and Google Sheets, so there is no significant cost for the project to expand, and no specific software to install to do it.

*Source UNHCR 2019:

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