The ATA Chronicle - July/August 2020 - 36

RESOURCE REVIEW

COMPILED BY JOST ZETZSCHE

How Interpreters Are Making the Switch to Remote
Interpreting in a COVID World

P

robably the most momentous change
for interpreters during the COVID-19
crisis is the universal switch to remote
interpreting during the lockdown-a transition
that feels threatening to some. So, I asked on
Twitter whether some interpreters could share
their remote interpreting experiences with us.
Here are the very diverse answers I received
from interpreters around the world.

LORENA ORTIZ SCHNEIDER
lorena@ortizschneider.com
www.ortizschneider.com
I did a session on FaceTime. The patient I
was interpreting for was wearing personal
protective equipment in the lobby of a
clinic. I was at my home office with a new
USB-wired headset with noise-canceling
microphone and flex arm. The provider
was also in the lobby, but I never saw him
(maybe he was holding the phone up for the
patient). The receptionist was talking in the
background, which was a little distracting. It
was actually not a bad session. I had to ask
the patient to repeat and speak closer to the
phone a few times, but overall I would give
the experience an 8 on a scale of 1-10.
I did another session similar to this from
my home office. The patient (wearing a
facemask) was in a room at the doctor's
office. The doctor was in another room in
the same office without a mask. The patient
was upset that she couldn't be in the same
room with the doctor.
I also did a Zoom appointment, also for
a medical clinic, but this time the doctor,
patient, and I were all in separate places.
It was a little challenging to get the doctor
to look at the patient as she spoke and
pointed to her body to show where she was
experiencing pain and inflammation, but I
made sure he looked up when I interpreted
with the same gestures the patient used.
This session was seamless.
At another session, a physical therapist
used a platform called thera-LINK (www.
thera-link.com), which worked pretty
well for me but not for the patient. She
was unable to connect. The therapist and
I could see and hear each other on theraLINK, but the therapist had to dial up the
patient on the WhatsApp video app. The
36

The ATA Chronicle | July/August 2020

therapist would hold up her iPhone to the
screen so I could see the patient as she was
talking. Nevertheless, both the audio and
video were sub-par, especially for a physical
therapy session where seeing people explain
exercises is important, but we got through it.
Another platform I've used is call Doxyme
(www.doxy.me), which is compliant with
the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act. However, there are
latency issues on the platform itself, so we've
actually ended Doxyme sessions midstream
and resorted to Facebook Messenger video
to complete the session. This latter platform
works surprisingly well. It requires you
to have a Facebook account on which
you feel comfortable having the provider
and limited-English-proficient individual
"friend" you. (If you don't want to use your
personal Facebook account to do this, set
up a dummy account.)
Zoom has also worked well with law
firms communicating with their clients and
having them sign documents via DocuSign.

LUCÍA HERNÁNDEZ
lucia@tranvia.ca
www.tranvia.ca
When I first started hearing about events
being canceled due to the coronavirus, I
said a little prayer that my favorite clients
(film festivals) wouldn't cancel. I'm sure
you know how that turned out.
Having lost the ability to see movies in
theaters, I grieved. Then I got in touch with
my clients. They were also grieving, but
they still had to do good by their programs.
Filmmakers were depending on them to

connect with audiences and distributors.
Their stories still needed to be told.
And so, while my clients worked out
how they would engage with viewers and
promote deal-making from home, I tried
out every video conferencing, webinar,
and remote interpreting platform I could
to determine how to recreate an in-person
encounter from home. This is not an
easy feat.
I took to Twitter and found fellow
interpreters doing the same. Novel
solutions and issues are being discovered
constantly, so I'm arming myself with
knowledge and alert to hiccups. To
mitigate the usual issues related to sound
quality, having a clear view of the speaker
and visual aids, and knowledge of the
equipment, I invested in better headphones
and a microphone, upgraded internet
and cables, soundproofed my space as
well as I could, and tested repeatedly. The
added visual element required furniture
rearrangement, new lighting, a camera, and
an additional monitor. There's nothing like
interpreting in person, but these conditions
have dramatically improved my ability to
interpret effectively from home.
When the time came, my clients were
relieved to have one fewer thing to think
about. No solution is perfect, and I'm
learning something new every day. My
clients still need help, but there's no time
like a crisis to go from vendor to partner.

CYRIL BELANGE
contact@belangeintl.com
www.belangeintl.com
I'm a consultant conference interpreter
based in Nice, France. When the
COVID-19 crisis hit, I was already using
some smart solutions for interpreting.
I had been a project manager for the
Linguali startup for two years, setting
up bring-your-own-device solutions for
simultaneous interpreting assignments
onsite. It allowed users to listen to the
interpreters through their smartphones
and earpieces. I learned how to explain to
clients how to use the web app, how to set
up my soft console and acquire the audio
www.atanet.org


http://www.ortizschneider.com http://www.doxy.me http://www.belangeintl.com http://www.tranvia.ca http://www.thera-link.com http://www.thera-link.com http://www.atanet.org

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