Thanks to advances in video technology, American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation services are more accessible than ever. Today, deaf individuals and the organizations that serve them can connect with an interpreter remotely instead of working with someone onsite. This not only makes it easier for ASL users to communicate—no matter where they are—but also reduces wait times and interpreting costs. And although connecting with a remote ASL interpreter has never been easier, it’s important to understand the difference between the two services available: VRS and VRI.

 

What Is VRS?

 

Video Relay Service (VRS) allows someone who is deaf or hard of hearing to communicate with a hearing person via telephone. The VRS caller uses a television or computer with a camera and an internet connection to contact an interpreter. They communicate in ASL through a video link. The interpreter then places a telephone call to the person the ASL user wishes to call. The interpreter relays the conversation in ASL with the VRS user and by voice with the hearing party. When a hearing person calls a deaf person, the call is also routed via VRS.

 

This service is available 24/7, and is free for the ASL user and the hearing person on the call. It’s paid for by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC).

 

What Is VRI?

 

Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) allows someone who is deaf or hard of hearing to communicate using video conferencing technology. The ASL user can make calls from a remote location or access an interpreter remotely while they’re onsite. For example, a deaf person can have a telemedicine appointment with a doctor using VRI. Or they can use VRI onsite at a medical facility when no ASL interpreters are available.

 

VRI calls can be made on-demand or scheduled in advance. Some language service providers offer 24/7 service. Like onsite interpreting, interpreters charge per minute, and the organizations that hire them pay the costs.

 

Advantages of VRI

 

Although both services fulfill communication-related mandates under the ADA, VRI does have a couple of advantages over VRS.

 

As we noted above, you can use VRI whether the deaf and hearing individuals are in the same room or all three parties are in separate locations. VRS, by FCC regulation, can’t provide free interpreting services when the two parties wishing to communicate are in the same room.

 

The other advantage is that VRI allows all three parties to see each other. This is important because ASL includes facial expressions and body language that can change the meaning of what someone is saying. VRI better replicates the onsite interpreting experience, which reduces the possibility of miscommunication.

 

VRI and Boostlingo  

 

With the Boostlingo platform, you can connect with a remote ASL interpreter on-demand. Our ASL/24 Service makes it easy to assist deaf and hard of hearing individuals in healthcare, legal, and numerous other settings, even after hours. All you need is a high-speed internet connection and a computer or web cam to get started.

 

Think Boostlingo may be right for you? Start your free trial today!

 

Did you know? One in 10 U.S. residents of childbearing age has limited English proficiency (LEP). That means millions of parents face language barriers when it comes to accessing healthcare for their children. Fortunately, video remote interpreting (VRI) can help improve patient outcomes and satisfaction for LEP families. 

In this article, we explore the benefits of VRI in children’s healthcare and see how it compares to other methods of interpretation. 

 

Los Angeles Children’s Hospital: A Study in VRI

 

From 2012 to 2017, researchers conducted a study to evaluate the implementation of VRI at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). The healthcare system, which serves patients throughout Southern California, already offered in-person and over-the-phone (OPI) interpretation services. 

Researchers rolled out 165 VRI carts and iPads in clinics, inpatient wards, and the emergency department. Staff in each department received support through six weeks of training and problem-solving issues. Additional rollouts occurred in groups every two to four months.  

Despite some initial challenges, the program was an overwhelming success. Over 50,600 VRI appointments occurred for a total of 556,938 interpretation minutes. Meanwhile, the use of OPI decreased by 37.5%, and the mean wait time for an interpreter fell from 60 minutes to 5 minutes. Rapid VRI adoption also occurred in clinics that lacked in-person interpreters. 

 

Increasing Access to Children’s Healthcare 

 

Initially, CHLA Pulmonary and Orthopedic Clinics used VRI the most per minute. As VRI supplemented in-person interpreting, the annual census for the Pulmonary Clinic increased by 1,000 patients. The use of language services rose from 4 in-person meetings per month to 129 per month, 96.9% of which were VRI. 

Additionally, VRI usage increased: 

  • 755.9% in the emergency department
  • 583.6% in the endocrinology clinic. 

It also increased substantially in outpatient settings through the use of iPads. 

 

VRI vs. Other Interpretation Methods

During interviews, clinical teams reported that VRI offered a more engaging, interactive, and readily available alternative to in-person and OPI for far more languages than staff interpreters. It also reduced wait times, appointment times, and improved patient satisfaction. However, staff still preferred in-person interpreters for more complex appointments. 

Yet VRI also offers benefits for in-person interpreters. Researchers found that VRI freed up time for in-person interpreters to attend professional conferences and undergo additional training. 

Overall, VRI proved to be beneficial for patients, clinical staff, and in-person interpreters. 

 

Video remote interpreting at Boostlingo

While VRI doesn’t replace the need for in-person and over-the-phone interpreting, it does serve as a great alternative in many medical scenarios. But to fully enjoy the benefits, you need a platform that makes it easy to connect. Enter BoostCare Telehealth, the telehealth system that leverages the world’s number one interpretation platform. 

With BoostCare, you can connect with patients quickly and effectively—as well as suppliers and other support services. Plus, you’ll gain access to our Boostlingo Professional Interpreter Network (BPIN) of interpreters who speak over 200 languages. 

Think Boostlingo is right for you? Contact us today to start your free trial!