Importance of Service Structure 

Translations can begin without a formal service structure. All it takes are a few dedicated people who are willing to form a group to create translation drafts. The translations can progress while ACA is growing locally. But if your country has a service structure, your local translation committee will probably be formed by that service structure and be accountable to it. Members of the committee may be elected, or a small workgroup may form on its own and later on may be formally recognized as a regional translation committee.

Your Translation Committee should have the authority and responsibility for developing translations. This means that your Translation Committee will do the actual translating and/or reviewing and make the decisions required throughout the process. At the same time, accountability to your local ACA fellowship needs to be maintained. This can be accomplished best with frequent reports to your local ACA fellowship and the WSO through the ACA WSO Translations Coordinator.

Because translations take time, especially the first piece in a language, it may seem as if your Translation Committee’s dedication is really being tested.  You will need all the support your ACA fellowship can provide. The committee members should have a realistic idea of how long these projects can take, and should be prepared to commit themselves for the duration of the project.

The permission to create the print layout, to print and to distribute an approved translation (License 2) is granted only to established and registered service bodies. Such bodies are essential to support and build the fellowship, and to ensure that translated literature can be distributed to the fellowship.


Working with Volunteers

Working with volunteers is different than working with professionals. We no longer talk about contracted work. However, translation assignments can be based on a realistic working plan, taking into consideration the available time and skills of the volunteers. Timelines might differ from those of a professional translator and more regular follow-ups and support may be necessary.

In our experience, if more people are involved, it is more motivating. But too many members may make it difficult to keep the group together and moving forward. A small group, between five and seven members, who are committed, is usually more manageable and stable than a large group and can achieve much in a short period of time. Regular meetings will ensure that the work keeps moving forward. E-mail correspondence seems to work better than physical meetings. As much as possible, your Translation Committee should operate by consensus. Seeking a group conscience seems to foster a sense of unity and satisfaction about the work. It can also be motivating to set a deadline when to publish newly translated documents, for instance at a convention. Then the volunteers can directly see the result of their work.

When it comes to the actual work, there is, of course, more than one way of doing things; it really depends on how many members there are in the committee. The collective experience of Translation Committees has generated a suggested Translation Workflow.

The Translation Committee chair acts as the facilitator for the work and:

  • makes sure that a schedule for your meetings is planned and set up;
  • sees to it that a realistic work plan is designed based on the available time and skills of committee members;
  • reports on a regular basis to the local ACA Fellowship (reporting is to area, regional, or national committees if they exist, or directly to members or the groups of your ACA fellowship);
  • is appointed to work directly with the ACA WSO Translations Coordinator, advising of a work plan, and communicating on a regular basis about your translation progress;
  • acts as a mediator if any arguments arise about word choices.

The committee itself needs to have members who have some recovery time, so that they are familiar with the steps, traditions, and concepts, which are the principles of Adult Children of Alcoholics®/Dysfunctional Families. Committee members should be proficient in the local language (your language), and at least one member, preferably more, should be skilled in both English and the local language.

Three more suggestions, based on experience from other Translation Committees:

  • Read and follow the Twelve Traditions and Twelve Concepts for ACA Service.
  • This service in ACA is best performed by a group of members – don’t isolate. A translation committee avoids overdependence on individual members.
  • Control and ego are the big enemies – our Twelfth Tradition teaches us to place principles before personalities.

Above all else, the key to this work is flexibility. If the committee finds that the guidelines it has designed for itself don’t work, it should be able to change them so they do work.

If your group/intergroup/service body is not registered with ACA WSO, please review registration guidelines on

  1. To register a meeting please follow instructions here.
  2. To register an intergroup or regional service body please follow instructions here.


Service Sponsors

The ACA European Committee is in the process of establishing a pool of service sponsors. Service sponsors are more experienced ACA members who have already helped to set up a local/regional service structure in their country or have offered their services in local/regional translation committees.

Most service sponsors began by becoming active in their home group – coffee, literature, cleaning, attending business meetings – before taking over national services.

Service Sponsors support individual members, groups or intergroups worldwide by answering questions about service position duties, sharing experiences & solutions in service, providing encouragement & support in your ACA service journey, sharing personal recovery benefits of participating in ACA service and helping you grow in new ways. And they help a member or group to understand the 12 traditions and the 12 concepts and how these apply in service.

If you are interested in either becoming a service sponsor yourself or working with a service sponsor, please contact the service sponsor coordinator of the European Committee here.


Twelve Concepts and Twelve Traditions

The Twelve Concepts of ACA Service help us apply the Steps and Traditions in our service work, which is an important part of the ACA program. The Concepts define and guide the practices of the service structures that conduct the business of ACA.

These Concepts depict the chain of delegated responsibility we use to provide service throughout the world. Although they focus on ACA world services, the Concepts direct all ACA’s trusted servants to well-considered actions for group participation, decision making, voting, and the expression of minority opinions. The Twelve Concepts support our primary purpose of carrying ACA’s message of recovery to the still-suffering adult children.

The Twelve Traditions also are critical for translation committees, as they focus on how individuals work together in groups. Adult children often survived by living in isolation, and working in groups can easily trigger old patterns of distorted thinking and behavior. When groups regularly reference the Traditions in solving group problems, members experience powerful personal growth and move forward with the project.

When groups attempt a complex, demanding task such as translation without using the Concepts and Traditions, they are far more likely to experience disruption and emotional relapses. This can even lead to the committee falling apart before finishing their work, putting the entire fellowship’s recovery in danger.

For more information about the Twelve Concepts, read the pamphlet The ACA Twelve Concepts, You might want to take a look at the ACA Commitment to Service as well.