Virtual and Video Interpreting
As everyone navigates work and life in the new virtual space, continuing to serve Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic, language access is a significant challenge. Videoconferencing technology, although far from perfect, can help us provide services without losing all of the human-to-human contact that typically facilitates communication. Below are a few resources to help you and your team have more effective interactions while working with Sign Language Interpreters.
Deaf professionals share perspectives and suggestions for effective virtual meetings:
- Tips on using Zoom with a Sign Language Interpreter
Interpreter fatigue-be aware that it will take extra mental effort for an interpreter to understand the source message with imperfect sound and few or no visual cues (depending on the availability and quality of video).
Generally, interpreters are advised to take a break or switch with another interpreter every 20 minutes, based on research(Moser Mercer, Kunzli & Korac, 1998; Brasel, 1976) regarding the interpreting process, as it it taxing BOTH physically AND mentally. Many interpreters are now being asked to sign for an hour or more, with no breaks. This can cause tiredness and headaches due to both the deaf individual and interpreters having to focus intensely on a 2D image, and needing to sign within a small area on screen (which isn’t natural). Extra strain can be caused by the need to accommodate poor internet connection and the image freezing. To avoid this, schedule short breaks every 20 minutes to half an hour allowing the interpreter and deaf person to rest. Also best practice is to have interpreters work in teams to best ensure effective communication.
Why have interpreters work in teams?
- Protects the occupational health(RMI/CTS tec.) and well-being of professional interpreters
- To assure the highest quality communication
- Provides a backup in the event there is a power outage or other technical disruption