Voice Interpreters

Interpreters, along with professionals such as teachers, singers, and call center operators work with their voices which means that an interpreter’s voice is their most important instrument, and, like any other tool of the trade, should be maintained and protected. In this article, we’ll look at some ways of protecting our voice – from keeping hydrated to learning breathing techniques. 

 

Don’t whisper… 

Chuchotage, also known as whispered simultaneous interpreting, involves performing simultaneous interpretation in a quiet voice while sitting or standing next to the party or parties one is interpreting for. Despite what the name implies, you are not actually supposed to whisper. According to one research study, for some people, whispering may be overworking your larynx. One of the reasons for this is that people often strain their voice while whispering and trying to be heard, which may be as taxing on your voice as shouting! 

 

… and don’t scream 

Speaking of shouting, speaking in a loud voice, such as when you are trying to speak over a loud voice or project your voice when speaking at a public event, can put a strain on your vocal cords. If you need to be heard by many people at once, consider using a microphone. If you are speaking on the phone or in a video meeting, find a good headset which allows you to be heard without straining your voice. 

 

Take regular breaks 

If you spend most of the day speaking, take a vocal nap – that is, take intentional breaks from using your voice and allow it to rest for a short period of time. When your voice is hoarse due to a cold or overuse, avoid speaking to allow your voice to recover. And iIn addition to resting your voice by avoiding speaking and singing, remember to rest your whole body – overall fatigue can also adversely affect your voice

 

Don’t get dry 

Staying hydrated is always a good idea – and having a good water balance is also a good way to take care of your vocal cords. In addition, consider placing a humidifier in your home and/or office. Having a humidifier can be especially helpful as we head into colder months, when heating can make the inside air particularly dry. Humidifying the air can help prevent things like having a dry mouth and needing to cough or clear your throat, which can be stressful for your vocal cords. 

 

Support your voice with breathing 

Taking a leaf out of singers’ books and learning breathing exercises and proper breathing techniques can help interpreters have more control over their voice. This can be especially helpful now, when many of us are straining to be heard through masks and at a distance of 6 feet. This article goes over some basic vocal techniques and voice control methods, while this video shows some easy exercises for beginners – give it a try! 

 

We hope these tips will help your voice stay in top shape so that you can keep doing what you love! 

 

video remote interpreting

Navigating the 2020 election season is a challenge. From extended registration deadlines to early voting to mail-in options, it’s hard to keep up with the changes due to COVID-19. That’s why we’re extending our video remote interpreting (VRI) hours to ensure voters have access to the information they need—regardless of their language.

 

Why Interpreters Matter  

 

Interpreters help make voting accessible. Limited English Proficiency (LEP) speakers and deaf individuals who use American Sign Language (ASL) rely on interpreters to assist them with the process. Below are just three reasons why someone may need an interpreter:

 

Voter Registration

 

Voter registration rules vary by state. The way you register, the documents you need, and the deadlines all depend on where you live. These rules can be confusing for U.S. natives, but pose an ever hurdle for immigrants who are eligible to vote. Someone from a country with a different system may need an interpreter to walk them through the process. And don’t forget about deaf and voters who rely on ASL and may need assistance.

 

Ballots

 

While ballots are typically translated into multiple languages, it isn’t always enough. People often have questions about what’s on the ballot. Voting on a proposition or an amendment may be new for LEP voters, and they may need an interpreter to explain that portion.

 

Older voters and those with vision problems may struggle to read what’s on it and need someone to read it to them. Other voters may have limited reading skills. While others still may not even get a ballot in their native language. An interpreter can help by walking them through what’s on it.

 

Voting

 

Like voter registration, the way you vote depends on where you live. Some states rely on electronic voting machines while others use paper ballots. Since ballots must be filled out and submitted properly, voters may need help following the instructions. Interpreters can help LEP and deaf voters by relaying those instructions and answering any questions they have.

 

The Advantage of VRI

 

While onsite interpreting is often the best option, VRI has its advantages. Firstly, it allows for social distancing. Voters who need assistance can access an interpreter without putting themselves—or the interpreter at risk for COVID. Secondly, interpreters are available on request for many languages. While some districts hire interpreters in advance, that isn’t the case everywhere. And finally, voters who speak a less common language can access an interpreter regardless of where they live. An LEP voter who lives in a small town or rural area won’t need to wait for an interpreter who lives several hours away.

 

Requesting an Interpreter

 

Fortunately, the Boostlingo platform makes it easy to connect with an interpreter via remote video. All you need is an internet connection and a computer or mobile device with a webcam to get started. Our Boostlingo Professional Interpreter Network (BPIN) supports over 200 languages—many of which are available on-demand. For a complete list as of October 2020, click here.

 

Want to learn more about how Boostlingo can help out this election season? Contact us today!

 

Sign Language Interpreters

The California State Senate and Assembly passed AB 2257 to include exemptions for translators, interpreters, and dozens of other professionals under the AB 5 “gig workers” bill. People in exempt occupations can now classify themselves as self-employed as long as they qualify under the pre-AB 5 standards. Although this is great news for most, it’s nothing to celebrate for many sign language interpreters.

 

Why AB 2257 Fails Sign Language Interpreters 

 

AB 2257 only recognizes one organization for sign language certification, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). By limiting certification options, the bill disproportionately affects interpreters who are Deaf and/or Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC). Below are just three reasons why the bill should be amended to be more inclusive.

 

Firstly, the current membership of the Maryland-based RID doesn’t reflect California’s diversity, as:

 

  • Only 4% of members are Deaf.
  • Less than 15% identify as BIPOC.
  • Less than 13% are native ASL signers (people who grew up with Deaf parents).

 

Secondly, certification through RID is unaffordable for many. Total fees for certification exams and retakes can cost over $1,000. This creates financial barriers for BIPOC and Deaf interpreters in a state that already has an interpreter shortage.

 

Thirdly, only 14 interpreters received RID certification in California and 20 received it for the 9-state western region in the past 18 months. With just over 1,000 RID- interpreters in the state, they can’t meet the need for interpreting services in schools, hospitals, courts, and other organizations. Limiting certification will create an even greater shortage.

 

Amending AB 2257 for Sign Language Interpreters

 

The Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and California Association of the Deaf (CAD) have asked the Assembly to avoid naming a specific organization. They recommend that “Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) be replaced with: “Any local, state or national entity officially recognized to evaluate and determine qualified sign language interpreters.”

 

This definition also aligns with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which uses the terminology “qualified” interpreters. Under the ADA, qualified interpreter is defined as: able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively (i.e., understanding what the person with the disability is saying) and expressively (i.e., having the skill needed to convey information back to that person) using any necessary specialized vocabulary.

 

Representatives from these organizations plan to return to the 2021 legislative session to request these changes be made with Governor Newsom and the California Legislature’s support. We will keep you updated as the story unfolds.

Compliance

Thanks to video remote interpreting (VRI), individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can access a sign language interpreter regardless of their location. However, this technology poses an important question. Does VRI comply with the requirements established under the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) act? The short answer is: it depends.

 

What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

 

The ADA is a U.S. civil rights law that prohibitions discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. That includes jobs, schools, medical facilities, transportation, and all establishments that are open to the general public.

 

Under the ADA, many organizations are required to provide access to an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter when a deaf individual needs one to communicate. However, an ASL interpreter may not always be available to come onsite. And while VRI may seem to be the perfect solution, this isn’t always the case.

 

What Are the ADA Requirements for VRI?

 

For VRI to be considered ADA-compliant, it must meet certain requirements. These include:

 

  • Providing real-time, full-motion video and audio over a dedicated high-speed, wide-bandwidth video connection or wireless connection.
  • Delivering high-quality video images that don’t produce lags, choppy, blurry, or grainy images, or irregular pauses in communication.
  • Providing sharply delineated images that are large enough to display the interpreter’s face, arms, hands, and fingers as well as the individuals face, arms, hands, and fingers—regardless of their body position.
  • Providing a clear, audible transmission of voices.

 

Yet despite these requirements, many deaf individuals still face technical and communication issues when it comes to VRI. In some cases, it has even impacted their ability to receive appropriate medical care.

 

Best Practices for ASL Interpreting via Video Remote

 

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to minimize these issues. Recommendations from the National Association of the Deaf include, but aren’t limited to:

 

  • Connecting to a dedicated high-speed, wide-bandwidth connection.
  • Using a flat-panel LCD monitor with a minimum screen size of 19.5 inches.
  • Using devices with cameras that provide a minimum video resolution of 720p. (The ideal resolution is 1080p60.)
  • Testing your microphone beforehand and using noise canceling features.
  • Placing the video screen no further than two feet from the person who needs an interpreter.

Don’t forget to check in with the person periodically, either. To ensure he or she feels comfortable using VRI, you may need to make adjustments to the video screen or the environment.

 

How Boostlingo Can Help

 

Now that you know how to meet the ADA-requirements, you may be wondering how to find a remote ASL interpreter when you need one. Using our VRI platform, you can connect with someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All you need is an internet connection and a device with a webcam to get started.

 

For more information about video remote interpreting for ASL, contact Boostlingo today!

Medical Interpreting

Accuracy is often one of the first cannons in interpreters’ codes of ethics, and there is a good reason for it: in order to trust the interpreter, both parties have to know that their message will be rendered faithfully.  On the face of it, this makes absolute sense – all you have to do is interpret everything you hear exactly as it’s being said. However, in practice, interpreting is fraught with challenges – including those that may affect accuracy. To help with this, we have prepared a helpful list of tips on ensuring accuracy in medical interpreting. 

 

Beware of idioms! 

We all know that literal translation isn’t always the best translation. This is especially true when it comes to idioms and other examples of figurative language such as phrasal verbs. The thing about such figures of speech is that, quite often, their meaning cannot be understood from interpreting each individual part of such phrases – you have to treat each figure of speech as a whole. Consider this: would these phrases make sense if they are interpreted into your working language(s) literally, or word for word? 

  • a game plan
  • rule of thumb
  • between a rock and a hard place
  • the early bird catches the worm 
  • to cost an arm and a leg

When interpreting idioms, be strategic and either find an appropriate equivalent in your working language(s), or interpret the meaning behind the idiom or other figure of speech.

 

Don’t censor rude language 

Sometimes the message interpreters have to render into another language contains language that is less than polite.  Rendering harsh words, critical opinions or expressions of frustration may be uncomfortable business. However, according to the National Standards of Practice for Interpreters in Health Care, “The interpreter renders all messages accurately and completely, without adding, omitting, or substituting. For example, an interpreter repeats all that is said, even if it seems redundant, irrelevant, or rude.” So, if an interpreter finds themselves struggling with interpreting something rude, it might be helpful to remember that they aren’t the ones saying these words – they are simply doing the job of facilitating communication between parties, without changing the content or making judgements about its quality. 

 

Don’t  ‘clean up’ an unclear message 

The example from the National Standards of Practice for Interpreters in Health Care cited earlier in the article mentions interpreters repeating everything that is said – even those parts that may seem redundant or irrelevant. Some examples of this could be somebody answering a simple yes/no question with a long rambling story, or speaking incoherently using unconnected words (‘word salad’). While it might seem reasonable to pick out only the pertinent information, or try to order an incoherent speech segment into something more comprehensible, doing so would violate the accuracy cannon. So, once again, interpret everything, change or omit nothing. 

 

Conclusion 

As interpreters strive to interpret everything accurately and completely, they should remember that literal translation is not always the best translation and that, no matter how difficult or incoherent a message is, interpreting it exactly as it is said is the most ethical thing to do. After all, as Jim Rohn, a prominent motivational speaker once said, “Accuracy builds credibility.”