How Does Video Remote Interpreting Work?

Video remote interpreting (VRI) allows interpreters to provide real-time sign language or spoken language services through video conference technology, increasing access to interpreting services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Video Remote Interpreting: A Flexible Solution for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Community

    Video remote interpreting (VRI) has become an invaluable tool to provide interpreting services to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. This technology allows for flexible, on-demand access to qualified sign language interpreters through video conferencing platforms. In this blog post, we’ll explore what VRI is, its benefits and limitations, and when it can be effectively utilized.

    What is Video Remote Interpreting?

    VRI allows an interpreter to provide real-time sign language or spoken language interpreting services through a video conference platform rather than being physically present. The interpreter connects with the deaf/hard-of-hearing participants and hearing participants via webcam and interprets conversations between them.

    The interpreter has a clear view of the participants and can facilitate communication seamlessly as if they were in the same room. VRI services are often provided by interpreter agencies that have a network of qualified interpreters available to connect with those requesting services via video conference technology.

    Benefits of VRI

    Utilizing VRI for interpreting services has many advantages:

    • Flexibility: VRI allows participants to access an interpreter on-demand when needed, without the interpreter needing to be physically present. This provides more flexibility than in-person interpreting services.
    • Cost savings: No transportation or travel costs are incurred with VRI, making it a cost-effective option in many cases.
    • Wide availability: Interpreters can be accessed for VRI across geographical distances, even in remote areas where there are shortages of qualified in-person interpreters.
    • Continuity: Participants can request the same interpreter for recurring sessions to promote continuity.

    Potential Limitations of VRI

    While VRI provides increased flexibility for accessing interpreters, there are some limitations to consider:

    • Video quality issues: Low resolution, lag, or glitches in the video can disrupt communication. A stable high-speed internet connection is essential.
    • Not ideal for complex conversations: VRI may not be appropriate for discussions requiring specialized vocabulary or an understanding of visual cues only visible in person.
    • Technology intimidation: Less tech-savvy participants may feel uncomfortable or intimidated using VRI technology without sufficient training and introduction to the process.
    • Privacy concerns: Participants should feel confident interpreters follow privacy best practices for video transmissions and stored data.

    When Can VRI Be Effectively Utilized?

    VRI provides an invaluable alternative to in-person interpreting for many situations including basic conversations and dialogues. With proper preparation and testing to ensure a high-quality video feed, VRI facilitates effective communication between hearing and deaf/hard-of-hearing individuals. However, for complex legal, medical, or sensitive private conversations, in-person interpreters may still be preferred when possible.

    With continued advancement in video conferencing technology and interpreters growing more adept at providing remote services, VRI continues to evolve as a flexible, convenient interpreting option benefitting the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.