n a lot of ways, testing is about finding (and potentially fixing) what doesn’t work. Testers seek out problems because nobody wants to use or sell buggy software.

But with localization testing, there’s an added reason for testers to care: you’re protecting the very things that are valuable to an entire culture of people. Cultural identity is an extraordinarily important component of who we are, and bugs that impact cultural identity can often times be the most frustrating.

For example, take the Cherokee tribe of Native Americans. Like many Native American tribes, their community was displaced by the advancement and settling of Europeans. However, one of their members, a man named Sequoyah, had the foresight to invent a written system for the Cherokee language. With that system, the Cherokee were able to keep detailed records of their history and communicate with other members of their tribe who were now spread across the country in different reservations.

Today, Cherokee is spoken by thousands of people in the United States, and it still uses Sequoyah’s complicated writing system. Incredibly, it’s possible today for Cherokees to communicate in their language using any modern communication device, including iPads and iPhones. That’s because Unicode includes support for the Cherokee syllabary (ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ), and any modern device with good Unicode support can handle the Cherokee language.

So why do we care about localization? Because entire cultures with thousands of years of history rely on being able to communicate with each other. Testing is crucial for more reasons than just making sure an app works. Testing is crucial because an entire culture may depend on your app to communicate.

By the way, the history of the Cherokee alphabet is fascinating. Indian Country Today is featuring a fun infographic describing the history of the Cherokee writing system. It’s a quick read and very interesting. Check it out here.