In Interpreting

Due to the recent events of the global pandemic, COVID-19, Interpreting industries are going through a new transition of heavily relying on Remote Interpreting (RI). RI is a technologically advanced form of interpreting that involves using technological tools like the internet, LAN-WAN, teleconference devices, computer, video/audio abilities to service multiple clients. This is a quick turnaround from the face-face model of interpreting where all parties involved were in meeting at one designated place. So what has changed for the interpreters in the transition from face-face to RI?

Many factors haven’t changed from On-site interpreting (OSI) to Remote Interpreting (RI). For example, arriving on time for the assignment, being professional and respectful to the clients, and interpreting the message accurately for the clients. While interpreting professional ethics and mannerism hasn’t changed, interpreters have a learning curve to completely get entrenched into the tech-savvy world of Remote Interpreting. From understanding their internet speed, to how to position themselves in front of their camera so they come across as professional and respectful to the clients watching their video interpreting.

The aspects that have changed are the way we could act professionally to the clients via video, managing a workspace within our personal domain, and understanding our clients without being able to read their non-verbal cues or, body language. Initially, it is natural for the interpreters during RI to feel like they are missing out compared to people physically present at the appointment- they may not have a complete view of the room, they may not be able to hear or see all parties that are talking, they may not have as much command on the communication understandings of all parties present in the room.

Despite, these transitional changes, RI presents interpreters with a unique opportunity where the industry is evening out playing field for all interpreters. Now, interpreters can carry out assignments without having to fulfill the job criteria of reliable transportation, logistical knowledge of the facility, disabilities debilitating them from conducting certain appointments, race/gender keeping them away from taking assignments. This is only a small perk of the RI, I believe interpreters will have plenty more to celebrate from updating their workforce technology.

Few tips I would like to offer interpreters transitioning to RI are:

1. Be patient! It’s like learning a whole new type of work; your RI skills will improve over time.

2. Don’t be intimidated! Even if you are not tech-savvy, it is your interpreting skills that are desired. The technical how-to(s) will come to you over time.

3. Select a private spot for your interpreting assignment. When you have a designated workspace with all the necessary tools, you won’t have to arrange for an assignment every time.

4. Ask for support & understanding from your family/friends living with you. When you have an interpreting assignment, you do not want any distractions from your children, pets, or family members. Make an arrangement with your family/friends for your work hours so you can focus.

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