How Video Remote Interpreting Saved the Day During the Pandemic (& Why It’s Here to Stay)

December 21, 2021 May 29th, 2024 No Comments

When it became clear COVID-19 spreads through airborne droplets, social distancing became a must. In response to the CDC’s associated guidelines, Americans started having their groceries delivered and stopped hosting large scale gatherings.

Not all assemblies could be canceled or postponed, though, which posed all kinds of challenges. Schools had to find a way to teach their students remotely, communities had to erect the infrastructure needed to hold virtual town hall meetings, and courthouses had to figure out how to accommodate hearings from home.

Naturally, as people changed the way they did business, their interpretation needs changed, too. Instead of on-site services, for example, they now required video remote interpreting (VRI).

What Happens During VRI?

Unlike scenarios that use an in-person language interpreter to communicate with others on site, VRI provides virtual interpretation services for participants who are off-site. During VRI, “attendees” receive on-demand interpretation via a hyper-secure HD video connection. You can access the communications on your smartphone, tablet, computer, or another compatible device.

Does VRI Use Consecutive or Simultaneous Interpretation?

Traditionally, both consecutive and simultaneous interpretation use on-site interpreters to communicate with on-site individuals. However, these services can be modified to accommodate pandemic-related restrictions.

During consecutive interpretation, the interpreter listens closely while the speaker talks in short bursts. Whenever the speaker pauses, the interpreter delivers the last portion of their message. This consecutive approach is what typically happens during video remote interpreting.

During simultaneous interpretation, on the other hand, the interpreter shares the speaker’s message while they talk continuously. Sometimes called “U.N. style,” simultaneous interpretation does not include pauses, so the conversation is never interrupted. When performed on a virtual platform, this approach is usually called remote simultaneous interpretation (RSI).

When Is VRI Most Helpful?

Ideal for one-on-one communications or small group chats, VRI can accommodate the typical stop-and-go flow of everyday conversation. Whether participants are deaf or have limited English proficiency, they’ll be able to keep up over the course of the session.

Once the pandemic started, the following scenarios demanded an abrupt switch from in-person gatherings to VRI-supported meetings, so they could proceed unencumbered:

1. School Courses

Before the pandemic, most academic institutions taught their students in person. With social distancing recommendations came the need to carry on remotely, and with virtual classes came a requirement for VRI (and sometimes RSI).

2. Town Hall Meetings

When it was no longer safe for entire communities to meet in person, municipalities had to start hosting their meetings online. This prompted the need for coupling VRI with RSI. When primary speakers address everyone, they’re usually interpreted in a simultaneous manner. When audience members respond or ask questions, they’re typically interpreted consecutively.

3. Legal Hearings

United States residents speak more than 350 languages, so it is no surprise that the courts must often accommodate non-English speakers. Those who are hard of hearing also require interpretation services during legal proceedings. Fortunately, both VRI and RSI offer inclusive solutions for individuals trying to navigate the court system.

VRI and RSI filled a major void during the pandemic, allowing essential gatherings to continue without putting participants at risk. Because of their accuracy and convenience, these services are no doubt here to stay, and as new variants spread, they’ll prove more crucial than ever.

For all your interpretation services, turn to Geneva Worldwide. We provide both consecutive and simultaneous interpretation on our clients’ preferred platforms, including Webex by Cisco, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom.

We also offer project management services, during which we send our tech team to the meeting site to attend the live event with the interpreters and ensure everything goes off without a hitch. To discuss your upcoming needs and request a quote, reach out on our website.