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Remote simultaneous interpretation platforms

October 18th, 2020

6 months into the pandemic and by now, all the interpreting assignments have moved online in a form of webinars, videoconferences, online trainings etc.

How does it work and which platforms are used for RSI? Here is a brief overview.

The most popular platform is without any doubt – Zoom. User friendly, affordable, intuitive. 99% of my work is done through Zoom these days: two language channels, mute button, mic on/off, participants list, chat –once a mic is on you can barely notice you are working online. All those advantages come at a price, unfortunately, and this price is security. Zoom conferences have been hacked countless times with inappropriate content suddenly popping up on everybody’s screen. It is for this reason that many international organizations stay clear of Zoom.

There are other, interpretation specific difficulties in Zoom –it is impossible to hear your booth partner while interpretation is on. Meaning handover is quite a challenge. Different interpreters solve this issue in different ways – some prefer logging into the conference using a second device (another computer, tablet or ever a smartphone will do) and a second pair of headset; others make a parallel video/audio phone call. It is also possibly to rely on exchanging ready- steady – go -it’s your turn – kind of messages in Zoom chat (always privately!) or regular messengers.  Either way, it is a bit of an inconvenience but interpreters make do because really that is what the clients mostly prefer.

There are other platforms that are used less frequently, mainly due to their high price: KUDO, Speakus, Interactio, Verspeak and others. Some (but definitely not all) organizations are ready to pay a higher price in exchange for a secured online meeting.

From the simultaneous interpreters’ point of view it’s important to keep in mind you have to be certified by some of these platforms (or get a brief onboarding training) before you are allowed to work on these as an interpreter.

Fortunately, the variety of RSI platforms is quite big and one can choose a solution that meets their requirements.