Video remote Interpreting (VRI) uses the power of video technology to translate for the deaf or hard-of-hearing. Using a camera on a computer or a smartphone, one is able to connect to trained interpreter who can translate visual language, such as sign language, into spoken words and vice versa.
The new global power of video makes VRI a powerful tool for business, schools, medicine, and much more.
The pros of VRI are many, but there are a few drawbacks to be aware of.
The Pro of Video Remote Interpreting (VRI)
Instant – With the touch of a button to a VRI service, one can have an interpreter there to translate from visual language to spoken language and vice versa. These services are available 24 hours a day and are often available on-demand. Many of these services also provide language translation services, so that nearly anyone that needs to is able to communicate instantly. One place where this need is extreme is in emergency rooms around the world. When someone arrives needing medical care, but they are deaf or hard-of-hearing, it can be a matter of life or death for them to be able to communicate with doctors and nurses about their condition.
Trained Professionals – VRI is done by trained professionals who are able to communicate well and thoroughly every time. Having content specialists in the translating role is important as well. Again, in an emergency medical situation, someone who knows medical terminology and is able to translate it well can be vital. Also, a trained professional will understand cultural differences and norms that need to be observed. When providing a service, one doesn’t want to offend a patient or client.
Unobtrusive – In the case of events like a business meeting, VRI can appear as simply another person in the meeting. The interpreter is there to translate what is said and then can speak whenever the deaf attendee needs to be able to communicate. Modern video technology would even allow them to have a tablet or smartphone with the interpreter on it, so that their translation services are invisible to most of the attendees.
The Cons of VRI
Unstable Connections – In some locations, such as remote areas or in the heart of buildings, VRI might have an unstable signal. Disconnections can frustrate users. Because most connections occur over wifi, any steel that interrupts the signal might cause a disconnection. Unlike verbal translation, which is often conducted over an office landline, VRI’s video basis requires wifi and therefore is susceptible signal interruption.
Visual Limitations – Sometimes persons that are deaf are also blind. VRI is not able to assist and can’t replace a live translator in these situations. Vision can also be limited when there is a large group that the translator needs to be able to see. If the person signing is a distance from the camera, it can be hard to see what they are signing well.
Distractions – In a busy emergency room or at a conference, there can be many different distractions in the background. While this can be planned for much of the time, when last minute VRI is required, it might not be able to be helped. Visual and audible distractions can make communication more difficult.
The Power of VRI
In the end, Visual Remote Interpreting is a powerful new tool that opens lines of communication for millions of deaf and hard-of-hearing persons around the world. The ability to get these services on-demand can mean that someone in urgent need of translating services can get them. Not only is this convenient, it can be life-saving.