© 2016 Taylor & Francis This paper examines how the roles of language, culture, and translation could be modelled within a framework of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) used in disasters. It is based on empirical data drawn from a case study of foreign nationals resident in Japan for the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. The case study revealed that the ICT used in the 2011 disaster was diverse; that interesting relationships existed between the forms of ICT used; that the use of this ICT varied across time, space, and user; and that translation in the disaster was a highly-contextual process of written and oral interlingual and intercultural transfer carried out mostly by volunteers. These findings have been combined in the paper with concepts taken from ecosystems theory in the study of ecology to propose a model of an ICT ecosystem in a disaster setting. The model describes and explains the forces and factors that come together to create the environment in which ICT is used by human actors during a disaster; namely information circulation, power, network capacity, infrastructure, location, income, language, and culture. The model also explains how translation can be conceptualised as a subsidy to assist the central force driving the system.