Over the phone and video conference interpreting practical

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Over the phone and video conference interpreting
Practical considerations for interpreters
Mariette Mittelholzer C.
Over the phone interpretation
Over the phone and video conference interpreting
Practical considerations for interpreters
Overview and future trends
Remote interpreting modes
1.1. Sight translation
1.2. Sight interpretation
1.3. Monologic consecutive
1.4. Dialogic consecutive
1.5. Simultaneous
1.6. Sign language
Over the phone and video conference interpreting
Practical considerations for interpreters
Practical considerations for interpreters
3.1. Requirements
3.2. Equipment
3.3. Ergonomics and occupational health
3.4. Scenarios
3.5. Vicarious trauma
3.6. Debriefing
3.7. Phone and call centre etiquette
Ethics and standards
Over the phone and video conference interpreting
Practical considerations for interpreters
Ethics and standards
Practical advantages
5.1From the interpreter´s point of view
5.2 From the provider´s point of view
Final considerations
Employment opportunities
Additional information
Overview and future trends
Fast growth in demand
Canadian market is opening up
Remote interpreting modes
Remote interpreting is provided over the phone (OPI) or through videoconference (VRI). In both
instances the following interpreting modes are used:
Sight translation: written text in a source language is read by the interpreter and
interpretation is rendered into the target language. (Insurance)
Sight interpretation: written text in the source language is read by the provider and the
interpreter interprets into the target language. (Consent forms, Miranda rights)
Monologic consecutive: interpreter interprets into target language after a person has
spoken. to speak. (Educational sessions)
Dialogic consecutive: the interpreter interprets a flow similar to a dialogue, which involves
more than one person. (Medical appointment)
Simultaneous: interpretation into target language is rendered virtually at the same time the
source is spoken. (911 )
Sign language
Practical considerations for interpreters
Linguistic skills: completely bilingual, superior language skills and fluency, knowledge of
sector specific terminology, ease of expression, good diction.
Physical location: silence, good illumination and ventilation are requirements for working
both from an office and from home. Silence is essential not only for you to hear and
concentrate well as an interpreter but also due to the fact that sounds will travel down the
line, this compromises a professional image and also causes doubts as to fulfillment of
confidentiality requirements.
When doing video conference interpreting backgrounds should be a plain colour, preferably
white or a light colour. Sign language interpreters will need to include more visibility of their
body due to hand movements. Non sign language interpretation requires only from the
shoulders up. Dress professionally even when working from home, you never know what
emergency may arise and you might find yourself suddenly getting up during a call and the
camera will project exactly what you have on.
When working from home seeing your bedroom or
kitchen in the background is not professional.
Customer service skills: interpreters often have to deal with angry, frustrated
and or impatient people. Sometimes both the provider and the LEP are upset,
impatient or even rude. (Utilities)
Answer with a smile, your smile can be seen over the phone even without the
Capacity to concentrate under pressure, remain focused and keep calm!
Answer with a smile!
Have your notepad and pens ready.
Over the phone interpretation: usually requires a landline phone. Cellular phones are not
recommendable due to privacy, interference, signal interruption and battery failure.
VOIP: requires use of a computer with a high speed connection, however no image is
Videoconference interpretation or video remote interpretation (VRI):
• Computer with high speed internet connection
• If interpretation is being done by sign language connection must be of the highest
• Good quality headphones with microphone, noise cancelling option and mute button.
• Cordless headphones would not be a good idea for batteries can give out in the middle
of calls.
• Camera: with good resolution
Basic requirements: notebook with a spiral at the top, several pens, dictionaries.
Good quality head phones with a
microphone are essential
Typical call centre environment. Call centre
environments used for interpretation try to put
more distance between interpreters.
Keep the microphone down towards your
chin, it will be less likely to pick up your
Keeping the microphone near your mouth
or nose causes noise because your
breathing will sound loud.
Ergonomics and Occupational Health
Occupational health and safety have shown there is a high prevalence of
musculoskeletal injury causing disorders of the neck, shoulders, arm and
hands among sign language users. OPI and VRI interpreters may also have
back problems due to extended hours of sitting and hearing loss.
• Noise: hearing loss may force an interpreter to change careers. Protect
yours!(EKG transmission, screaming)
• Infectious diseases: colds and flues enclosed environment of call
• Voice protection
• Biomechanical hazards related to posture
Interpreters often have
very loud noise during calls
such as ambulance sirens. .
Other loud sounds often heard over the
phone are crying and screaming.
Protect your ears, hold the headphones
away or if you have time turn down the
Ergonomics and occupational health
Biomechanical hazards related to posture
• Static posture: is a position that is maintained for a period of time
continuously. Avoid prolonged static posture. Modify your sitting position.
• Tissue compression: avoid hard surfaces for sitting, use a cushion on chair
seat, arms on desk surface, legs on chair edge
• Keep your hands and wrist in a neutral position.
• Protect your eyes, the computer screen should be directly in front of you
and 4 to 9 inches below your eye level, use a glare reduction filter, look
away from the screen often (every 10 min for 10 – 15 s)
• Use footrests, lumbar support, and take frequent breaks.
Ergonomics and occupational health
Chair characteristics
• Backrest
• Adapted to your height
• Armrests
• Ample space to fit under your work surface
• Work surface
• Good height for your arms to be in the correct position
• Ample for accommodating computer, notepads, pens, drink
• Well illuminated
Characteristics of a good chair
Call duration and volume
911 calls: have their own protocols, are fast paced, can last seconds and have background noise or
hysterical callers
Utilities: electricity, phone, water, heating... callers usually do not understand something on their bill or
why the service has been suspended.
Entertainment: Disney, Bellagio reservations, packages, shows, theme parks
Legal: statements, recorded statements, discoveries (Video conference interpreting), legal aid
Insurance: benefit explanation, deductibles, hospital administration
Financial: account info, online banking, credit cards, loans, 401K
Health: every stage of patient attention, Dr, Nurses, administration, social workers, home visits, education
sessions, AIDS and depression hotlines, AD info line
Vicarious trauma
• Emotional trauma may occur when an interpreter
receives a direct insult or as a consequence of
vicarious trauma when the interpreter
empathizes with one of the parties.
• Interpreters participate in encounters of many
types, domestic violence, physical or mental
abuse, 911 attention, AIDS hotlines are examples
which may cause vicarious trauma. Debriefing
can reduce interpreter trauma.
Phone and call centre etiquette
Aplicable when working from home also:
• Answer on the first ring (avoid breech in contract which may incurre
• Be careful of your tone, inflictions, emotions and what you express
verbally and non verbally.
• Use the mute button
• Do not say anything you shouldn´t.
Phone and call centre etiquette
In call centres try to keep your voice volume down
Do not have private conversations when other interpreters are on calls
Your cell phone should be OFF
Other applications sould not be running on the computer
Cover drinks at the workstation.
Standards of practice
Applicable for working with Canadian providers
National Standard Guide for Community Interpreting Services
Accuracy and fidelity
Respect for persons
Maintainance of role boundaries
Interpreter does not advocate. Or do they?
Identify and corrects interpretation errors as soon as possible
Continued competence
Maintains and expands skills and knowledge
Standards of practice
Applicable for working with American providers
NCIHC (National Council on Interpreting) Contains the former and:
• Cultural awareness
• Advocacy
Practical advantages
From the interpreters point of view
• Work from home (Advantage or disadvantage)
• Flexible schedule (possibility of filling down time)
• Not having to go out in winter
• Call centre advantages include interaction with other interpreters
(difficult calls, questions on how to proceed, equipment),
Practical advantages
From the providers point of view
• Using interpreters located in Canada or in the US the probability of having
to contend with issues such as non availability of interpreters due to
power outages, earthquakes, bus strikes or riots is greatly reduced in
comparison to what can occur in some countries. (Contingent staff or
house interpreters)
• Cost efficient depending on length of call compared to onsite
• Interpreters level of education is often higher in places such as Toronto
where many have university degrees before coming to Canada
• Language availability, more variety in Toronto, than in many other
countries and cities
• Being completely bilingual does not guarantee that a person will be a good
interpreter. Specific skills and professional training give a solid foundation
and necessary tools for excellent interpretations. This is true for on site
and remote interpreting.
• Some companies offer employees limited interpreter training using
shadowing, monitoring and random call recording. QA will give individual
feedback and suggestions to interpreters. Other interpreting companies
will give interpreters sector specific and client specific glossaries and client
• Fortunately Canada offers several options for studying community
interpreting and courses are available in organizations such as MCIS,
Colleges and Universities. Of particular interest is the Master of
Conference Interpreting (MCI) being offered by York University through
Glendon available online. Remote interpreting, specifically over the phone
interpreting is addressed in several of the courses and has special mention
within healthcare. The MCI at Glendon also provides training for working
with American providers and Canadian providers, a fundamental aspect to
consider as American companies hire remote interpreters in Canada.
• Serious, professional interpreters should consider training and updating
their knowledge as a way of improving their performance.
Final considerations
Never underestimate the power of technology in communication. I would
like to leave with you two examples of calls where technology permitted
communication but ultimately it is man´s communication skills that
rendered effective communication.
• 5 people on line
• Explanation of how to use a new meter for testing blood glucose levels
Employment opportunities
• Some American interpretation companies outsource remote
interpretation assignments to interpreters located in different countries.
Interpreters may work from call centers or from their homes depending on
company stipulations.
• Currently Canadian interpretation companies require
interpretation and continuous growth is being experienced within the
field. Schedules will vary depending on the demand. Pay may be by the
minute, hours or fixed. Income may also depend on the language and
Additional information
• IMIA A Medical Interpreter´s Guide to Telephone Interpreting
• The voice on the other end of the phone
We hope you have found this information of
use for your professional growth.
Thank you!
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