Black woman uses her laptop to conduct a remote interpreting session.

What Is Remote Interpretation?

In today’s interconnected world, businesses need to effectively communicate across language barriers, and interpretation plays a key role.

Traditionally, interpretation has been done on-site, with an interpreter present in the same room as the people who need assistance. However, in the past few decades, remote interpretation has seen tremendous growth.

Remote interpretation refers to the delivery of spoken or signed interpreting services over the telephone/audio or video conferencing technology. The interpreter is remote, whereas the two or more parties using the interpreting services can be together in the same location or not.

Remote interpretation offers unique advantages compared to on-site interpretation and has become a reliable solution for many businesses communicating between languages.

Find Qualified Remote Interpreters On Demand through Certified Languages International

The Growing Need for Remote Interpretation

As digital transformation continues to reshape the modern business landscape, communication needs are evolving. Remote interpretation bridges the language gap and enables instant connection with people from different linguistic backgrounds regardless of their geographic location.

Remote interpreting is crucial for overcoming language barriers in banking, healthcare, education, government, and other industries. With strong remote interpretation services, all parties can improve communication and better understand each other. And as more businesses and organizations transition to digital platforms, there is no doubt that remote interpreting services will continue to grow in use.

Related: 2024 Outlook: What You Need to Know About Language Access

Pros of Remote Interpreting Services

Remote interpreting services offer numerous benefits for both customers and interpreters. Some of the most significant advantages include:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: Remote interpreting is available immediately and eliminates the need to pay for travel expenses and minimums for on-site interpreters, saving money and time.
  2. Convenience: Remote interpreting services provide a simple and easily accessible solution for users with no need to wait for an on-site interpreter.
  3. Flexibility: Remote interpreting allows for availability of interpreters 24/7 and enables organizations to access interpreters for languages of lesser diffusion.
  4. Speed: Users can get language assistance quickly, which is essential for time-sensitive situations, such as medical emergencies.
  5. Patient or Customer Anonymity: Remote interpreters can provide their services in sensitive situations where an in-person interpreter may have a personal connection to the patient or customer.

Cons of Remote Interpreting Services

Although there are plenty of benefits to remote interpreting services, there can be some downsides:

  1. Technical Issues: Connectivity and call quality problems can disrupt the communication process. Audio and video issues may lead to garbled voices or gray screens that hinder conversations. Your language service partner needs to know how to navigate and prevent these types of issues. 
  2. When Interpreting for Small Children: Interpreting for small children can be challenging with remote interpreting services. Children often have short attentions spans or may not want to cooperate during interpretations. It’s tough to keep them engaged and interested in speaking, especially over the phone. And without the benefit of sharing the same physical space, it can be difficult for remote interpreters to put small children at ease during the interpretation process.
  3. Navigating Difficult Conversations: Emotional conversations about end-of-life care, legal status, or other bad news can be difficult when using remote interpreting services. And while video remote interpreting can make the process easier, sensitive conversations are usually best left to an on-site interpreter.

Commonly Used Platforms for Remote Interpreting

There are many platforms available that support remote interpreting services. Here are a few different types:

  • Traditional video conferencing platforms: Popular video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams are used by healthcare providers for telehealth services. While interpreting was an afterthought in their development, these platforms are becoming more interpreter-friendly as time passes.
  • VRI platforms: Video remote interpreting (VRI) platforms provide interpreting services on devices such as computers, laptops, tablets, or smartphones. They are designed specifically for interpreting but have expanded into the telehealth space.
  • International event platforms: International event platforms like KUDO and VoiceBoxer are versatile solutions that offer both event management and remote interpreting capabilities. These platforms can support hundreds of languages and are perfect for international events where attendees speak many different language pairs.

Comparing Over-the-Phone Interpretation and Video Remote Interpretation

Both over-the-phone interpretation (OPI) and video remote interpretation (VRI) services have distinct use cases. Here’s what you should know about the differences between over-the-phone interpretation and video remote interpretation:

OPI:

  • More reliable in areas with low bandwidth or unstable internet connections.
  • Greater language diversity.
  • Better for quick, straightforward interactions.

VRI:

  • Allows interpreters to pick up non-verbal cues, such as body language, facial expressions, and posture.
  • Facilitates clear communication for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Requires a stable internet connection and access to a device with a microphone and webcam.
  • More effective for small group interactions where the interpreter would benefit from reading the room. 

When Should You Use OPI or VRI?

Choosing between OPI and VRI depends on a variety of factors, such as the situation, resources, and preferences of the users. Here are some general guidelines to help you decide:

Choose OPI when:

  • Your internet connection is unstable or you have low bandwidth.
  • Your language mix is diverse.
  • The interaction is brief and straightforward.

Choose VRI when:

  • You have access to a stable internet connection and a video-enabled device.
  • Non-verbal cues play an essential role in communication.
  • You’re assisting a person who is deaf or hard of hearing and they’re comfortable using video interpreting technology.

How Certified Languages International Can Help

Certified Languages International connects you with talented interpreters fluent in over 230 languages. From on-demand video interpreting using any device to telephone interpreting services available 24/7, we make sure that our clients receive the most accurate, highest-quality interpretations.

FAQs

What is an example of remote interpretation?

An example of remote interpretation is when a professional interpreter facilitates conversations from one language to another over video or phone for a medical appointment. The interpreter can be located anywhere in the U.S. and provides their services remotely to clients.

What does a remote interpreter do?

A remote interpreter provides spoken or signed language interpretation services from a separate location using technology such as a video conferencing platform or telephone. They interpret everything that’s said during a conversation between two or more individuals who speak different languages.