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How does remote interpreting work?

What is remote interpreting? This process allows translators and interpreters to work from home or from remote interpreting hubs. Remote interpreting allows communication between different groups of people who do not speak the same language, especially when it is not possible for speakers or interpreters to travel to the event –when there is a lack of funding or because the location of the event is tricky. Since the pandemic started, requests for this type of service have increased and most companies continue to use remote interpreting out of habit.

In this blog post, Cultures Connection details the key aspects of remote interpreting, outlining the main points to keep in mind:

– Advantages of remote interpreting

– Drawbacks of remote interpreting

– Remote interpreting platforms

First of all, note that remote interpreting can be used for any type of event: a company video conference, an important meeting, a discussion with a multilingual audience, a symposium, an interview, etc.

1. What are the advantages of remote interpreting?

To begin with, it is noteworthy that remote interpreting was practiced long before the arrival of COVID-19 and its related health restrictions. Previously, remote interpreting professionals and companies were already benefiting from it, because:

  • Interpreters are not required to travel. All the heavy and complex equipment normally used is not needed. Interpreters can interpret either from home or from a nearby hub where booths and television screens are set up specifically for their work.
  • This type of interpreting is cheaper because transportation, accommodation and equipment rental services are not added to the final price. This means necessarily that the bill is lower.
  • Some interpreters favor remote interpreting since it allows them to do everything from home. Of course, it all depends on the professional’s viewpoint, as some interpreters still prefer to go to the venue.
  • Only minimal technical equipment is required: a computer, some audio equipment and an internet connection are enough to carry out the assignment.
  • For an urgent need, you can find specialists available right away. This process is more suitable in case of emergency because it avoids the travel times for professionals as well as the complex logistic organization of on-site events. This ensures a greater flexibility!
  • You have a wider choice of professionals, considering that the interpreter can work from all over the world.
  • More people are likely to participate. If the event that requires interpretation takes place on your premises, it’s difficult to involve your foreign subsidiaries, for example. With remote interpreting, everyone –regardless of their location– can follow the event and interact in an optimal way.

2. What are the drawbacks of remote interpreting?

However, there are still negative aspects that come with some processes. Remote interpreting can present a few challenges:

  • The equipment must be reliable and well configured. It’s not easy to foresee an internet crash or a server failure of the platforms. In addition, checking that all connections are properly made is crucial, so as to ensure perfect audio and visual quality.
  • Interpreters must work in a quiet environment. Sometimes this is not the case at home, for a variety of reasons –noisy neighbors, construction in the street…
  • Interpreters have a greater responsibility: linguists must not only prepare for the assignment and create a targeted glossary, but also worry about the equipment used and the platform on which the event is held. At times this can prove more stressful for them as there are issues that are not predictable.

3. What remote interpreting platforms are used?

Several remote interpreting platforms are available, where speakers, participants and interpreters can connect to take part in the event virtually.

You can carry out an interpreting assignment, for example, via video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Teams, Kudo, and so on. Some platforms such as Interprefy, VOICEBOXER or Interactio are platforms dedicated to remote interpreting. Those are used by companies that often hold this type of event, although they cost more. All of these platforms contain built-in collaboration tools, i.e. multiple screen sharing, chat rooms and multiple display modes. Participants can also change their listening language based on preferences.

Of course, Cultures Connection has already provided remote interpreting services. Both our clients and attendees have always been satisfied with the experience. Indeed, this type of interpretation is highly appreciated –and depending on the circumstances– is even recommended by translation and interpretation companies or a large number of interpreters. Remote interpreting is sometimes preferred by clients and language professionals alike, as they consider it to be more appropriate due to the reduced cost compared to face-to-face interpreting, convenience and flexibility.

This article has been written by Laura Le Galliot

A Master's student in Translation and Interpretation, Laura is doing her apprenticeship in translation, writing and vendor management at Cultures Connection.