By: Victor Hertz On: October 26, 2020 In: Legal Interpreting Comments: 0
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Remote interpreting enables safe and secure communication between people who speak different languages but are not able to meet in person.

As such, the COVID-19 pandemic — which enhanced the demand for communication at a distance — accelerated the adoption of remote interpreting for a wide variety of legal and medical purposes.

Fortuitously, advances in technology during the second decade of this century facilitated new solutions that met this demand with secure, scalable platforms.

In particular, the development of secure remote access to video on wireless platforms allowed the adoption of Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) as a viable option for interpreting at a distance.

In the following article, we take a look at what exactly remote interpreting is, how VRI differs from other forms of remote interpreting, and why it is becoming an important tool for modern legal and medical professionals.

How Remote Interpreting Differs from On-Site Interpreting

Simply stated, on-site interpreting (sometimes called in-person interpreting) requires an interpreter to be physically present during a meeting; remote interpreting takes place via secure audio and/or video feeds.

In comparing these two modes of interpreting we can identify a critical tradeoff in convenience vs. accuracy.

Convenience vs. Accuracy

Remote interpreting has the advantage of convenience when physical proximity creates logistical challenges.

For example, there are delays (and costs) associated with the interpreter getting to a specific location. Remote interpreters can be “delivered” to a location within minutes — or even seconds — rather than hours.

Then too, during a crisis physical separation can itself solve problems. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic the physical separation of remote interpreting eliminates a potential vector of infection. Similarly in natural disasters like fires and floods, it’s much safer to keep an interpreter out of harm’s way.

The problem that can arise with remote interpreting is the degradation of information due to the physical separation of the parties involved. The barrier of distance can cause miscommunication due to dropped calls, garbled transmission, and equipment failures.

Moreover, remote interpreting may not capture critical information when it’s conveyed by non-verbal communication.

Enhancing the Accuracy of Remote Interpreting

In general, human communication is not 100% aural. Indeed, non-verbal communication — for example physical distance, posture, hand gestures, and facial expressions — convey a substantial portion of intended information.

As a result, remote interpreting is not as effective in capturing meaning as on-site interpreting.

Fortunately, the availability of new technologies — specifically better, faster connectivity and secure remote video platforms — help ameliorate this degradation of information.

Video Remote Interpreting vs. Telephonic Interpreting

There are two forms of remote interpreting: telephonic interpreting (sometimes called over-the-phone interpreting or OPI) and Video Remote Interpreting (VRI).
As its name implies, telephonic interpreting occurs over a secure phone line allowing the interpreter and client(s) to hear each other.

Video Remote Interpreting, on the other hand, provides live video streams where the interpreter and the client(s) are able to see each other. As such, VRI provides more information than telephonic communication.

This has two benefits from the perspective of interpreting.

  1. VRI allows for remote interpreting of unspoken, purely visual signed languages like American Sign Language. This is a unique benefit of VRI compared to telephonic interpreting.
  2. VRI ameliorates the loss of non-verbal information.

VRI platforms can easily be accessed through any standard web browser on a laptop, desktop, smart phone, tablet, or other mobile device.

As long as you have a camera, a microphone, and internet access, you can connect to a professional VRI interpreter in moments.

The Current State of Remote Interpreting

At present, VRI is an excellent tool for remote interpreting and emergency on-demand interpreting for a number of critical languages.

In particular, there is good availability for Video Remote Interpreting for ASL and common English language pairs including Spanish to/from English.

When supplemented by telephonic interpreting — as the Legal Language platform does — Video Remote Interpreting is a solid alternative to on-site interpreting for most purposes.

How LLS Can Help

Whether you serve an international corporation, a multilingual client base, or an individual who communicates in sign language, VRI offers a secure, easy, on-demand way to communicate in a whole new — and more effective— way.

When you need language assistance for a team meeting, a client consultation, or a legal proceeding, LLS has you covered.

Contact LLS today to learn more about how we can assist you.

Call 1-800-788-0450 or simply fill out our online inquiry form.


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