Is Remote Interpreting here to stay?
COVID-19 has definitely brought up virtual solutions as the alternative and, perhaps, rational option when communicating. Classes, business meetings, seminars and orientations are just some of the events that have been turned into virtual gatherings. For some, this set-up has already been used for years, but only as a replacement procedure. This has been the case for RSI or Remote Simultaneous Interpreting. However, living and fitting in the “new normal” has made this alternative online set-up into the prime solution in providing multilingual support.
It’s hard to deny the challenging factors that RSI has drawn in for interpreters. On top of the cognitive load of interpreting, software and other technical issues with the channel used has to be dealt with. This adds latency and disrupts the momentum of the interpretation taking place.
In the classic setup – in person interpreting, any issue relating to equipment is handled by specialised technicians. Aside from this, stable internet connection, well-optimized desktop/computer, high quality headset with microphone, and an extra power supply in case of outage has to be achieved and maintained all throughout! One could actually say that this is too high maintenance and an extra workload to worry about especially when you’re in the middle of doing the job.
Moreover, opting for RSI demands shorter work hours and more frequent breaks. Everything needs to be clarified before moving on to the next part which could add more tension and pressure to both interpreter and client.
Another essential part also is to set expectations for both parties, the assigned interpreter should not be held liable if something goes wrong & beyond control. Despite all preparation and necessary measures taken before, technology is unpredictable and discrepancies are inevitable. Clients also have to be well knowledgeable on the technicalities of RSI. It’s the interpreter’s duty to orient and advise the client by openly communicating what needs to be done and should be avoided accordingly.
Even though both parties are away from each other and working in remote areas, RSI still requires, if not more, equal remuneration as to the conventional way of interpreting. More tasks and prerequisite duties have to be ensured and laid out even before starting the conference.
All things considered, RSI is the most appropriate choice in these trying times. Although, it could add more challenge or stress to interpreters, depending on how one looks at it, RSI is a great opportunity for both parties to learn and engage in. If you look at it in retrospect, we are just at the stage of laying the foundation for better solutions that are yet to come. RSI still has its own flaws to iron out and over time, with lots of trial and errors, this will be a great tool for communicating beyond the standard practice.