The Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to the global society including interpreters. The social distancing measures have led to a significant reduction in the number of physical meetings. Most meetings are now moving online. For interpreters, this has given rise to what is called RSI, which stands for Remote Simultaneous Interpretation. There are many platforms that enable this service, such as Zoom, Congress Rental Network (CRN), Interprefy, Webex, Teams, Kudo, and others. On Zoom for example, participants can listen to the interpretation by clicking the interpretation globe and choose the language they wish to listen to.
RSI involves many technical components. It is paramount that interpreters get themselves familiar with the technical requirements. They need a computer with sufficient specifications to support the smooth-running of the system. Wi-fi connections are inadvisable. In some cases, interpreters may be required to use a noise cancelling headset with a USB connection.
RSI enables meeting participants to listen to the interpretation provided remotely. Clients can reduce costs as they may not need to travel or rent any venue and SIS devices. However, there is a possibility that some clients may ask interpreters to come to their office and provide their RSI service there while the speakers are abroad or in another place. That is possibly for the sake of confidentiality, to prevent the interpreters from recording any conversation, taking photos of any presentation, and other things they wish to prevent. However, this case is rare.
Things to remember
RSI presents some challenges to interpreters. They have to juggle with the task of delivering their interpretation which certainly requires much attention and focus while at the same time they have to deal with the technical work. If they are using Zoom, more often than not, they have to use two devices (one to broadcast their interpretation and the other one as a listening device to enable them to listen to their working partner or to listen to other languages in relay interpretation).
In addition to the technical complexity, they also have to make sure that their internet connection is stable. Expect the unexpected! Sometimes, a speaker may have poor sound quality due to connectivity issues. Sometimes, many of them only rely on their computer speaker and do not use any headset when speaking. In a worst-case scenario, participants forget to unmute themselves when they are not speaking, thus interfering with the voice of the speaker who is currently speaking. These are some examples of challenges faced by interpreters in RSI.
Clients need to remember that simultaneous interpreting requires lots of focus and brain power. Interpreters normally get tired if they have to work alone for hours. So, it is advisable to have more than one interpreter to work together to ensure the quality of their delivery.
Clients can suggest the speakers to use a headset for better sound quality input. Interpreters cannot interpret what they don’t clearly hear.
Remote Simultaneous Interpretation (RSI) work is more complex than on-site interpreting work for at least two reasons, one being the complexity which requires the interpreters to multitask, and the other one being the pressure resulted from possibilities beyond their control, for example, anything relating to Internet connection. Therefore, the fees charged should also be worth the work. Even though the work duration is for example one hour only, the time taken for preparation including to read materials and the downtime after work due to possible mental fatigue should also be taken into consideration. Many suggest that the best rate applied is a minimum of a half-day rate for RSI.
While RSI provides a solution for remote meetings, nothing can replace the joy of physical meetings. Till we meet again, stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong.
Contributor: Luh Windiari
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