The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2020 - 31

THE ENTREPRENEURIAL LINGUIST

BY JUDY JENNER

Zoom Remote Simultaneous Interpreting Report

I

n the January/February issue, just before the pandemic,
I wrote about whether remote simultaneous interpreting
(RSI) was the next best thing.1 While I'm pleased with the
completely accidental timing of my article, I didn't have a
crystal ball back then and I certainly don't have one now, but I
think we can all agree that the future has arrived much sooner
than we expected.
Almost overnight, RSI went from being something we were
discussing as a profession but infrequently doing to something
we do frequently. We had to struggle to adapt and learn.
We still have a lot of work to do on all fronts (including fee
schedules, working conditions, dealing with acoustic shock,
and client education), but I would like to share some of my
experiences doing RSI on the platform that my clients have
chosen, for better or for worse: Zoom.
In the spring, all interpreting work disappeared for about
a month or so as my clients, including federal courts, law
firms, court reporting firms, and some interpreting agencies
figured out ways to continue working remotely. Much
interpreting work was soon moved online. (It's a good
thing we live in 2020 and not in 1980 or even 2000, when
technology was not advanced enough to permit widespread
remote work.)
My law firm clients, figuring their civil cases couldn't be
delayed indefinitely, took to Zoom relatively quickly. It was all
consecutive, though. While I've done dozens of depositions,
examinations under oath, and arbitrations in consecutive
mode via Zoom, I wanted to be ready for simultaneous
conference interpreting work via Zoom. I've used several other
interpreting platforms that are designed around the needs
of professional conference interpreters but have had a tough
time convincing clients to use them, their main question to
me being: " Why don't we just use Zoom? " . My arguments in
favor of these other platforms seem to fall on deaf ears, which
is frustrating but also understandable from their point of view,
as clients tend to want simple solutions that are affordable and
can easily be used by non-linguists such as deponents with
limited technical skills.
But what about conference interpreting? I figured it would
be back at some point, perhaps in remote or hybrid form (such
as hubs, which are now relatively widespread in Europe), and I
wanted to be ready on all platforms. The in-person conference
interpreting assignments I had booked for March were all
canceled and no remote option was offered, but I figured it
was only a matter of time. Since I had some experience using
dedicated interpreting platforms but not Zoom, I set out to
learn how to do it. This is where the amazing interpreting
community came in.

In the middle of this pandemic, one realizes that
there's a great community out there, trying to help
each other adapt to our new, and oftentimes scary,
interpreting world.

My colleague Ernest NiƱo-Murcia, a federal court
interpreter, and his teammates Tamber Hilton and Aimee
Benavides, also federal court interpreters, had been posting2
extensively on their efforts to learn and do simultaneous
interpreting via Zoom, and had shared successes and
frustrations that I found incredibly helpful. (Ernest, Tamber,
and Aimee have joined together to form T.E.A. Language
Solutions, offering RSI training and technical support for
interpreters and clients, which fills an important need.)
In the middle of this pandemic, one realizes that there's a
great community out there, trying to help each other adapt
to our new, and oftentimes scary, interpreting world. Reading
about it is one thing, but I needed to practice, and Ernest
and Tamber graciously agreed to train me and one of my
interpreting partners, Anabella Tidona in Los Angeles.
We spent several hours one evening practicing handovers
between interpreters and shared the frustration of not being
able to hear each other when you interpret. (We've solved
this with a second device and a WhatsApp call that's always
active.) We ran through scenarios when the interpreter is

This column is not intended to constitute legal, financial, or other business advice. Each individual or company should make its own independent business decisions and consult its own legal, financial, or
other advisors as appropriate. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of ATA or its Board of Directors. Ideas and questions should be directed to judy.jenner@entrepreneuriallinguist.com.
www.atanet.org

American Translators Association

31


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The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2020

Contents
The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2020 - Cover1
The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2020 - 2
The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2020 - Contents
The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2020 - 4
The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2020 - 5
The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2020 - 6
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The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2020 - 35
The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2020 - Cover4
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