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What is Video Remote Interpreting?

what is video remote interpreting?

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Video remote interpreting (VRI) has significantly transformed the landscape of the language services industry. Unlike Over the Phone Interpretation (OPI), which primarily benefits hearing individuals, VRI allows members of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (HoH) community to reach an ASL interpreter and access public services easily.

While OPI may be beneficial in certain situations, what sets VRI apart is that it offers face-to-face communication. Today, VRI is seen as a transformative language solution for overcoming communication barriers in spoken and signed communication across different settings. Let’s dive into how video remote interpreting works and examine its benefits and applications.

What is Video Remote Interpreting, and How Does VRI Work?

Video remote interpreting is a modality of remote interpretation where interpretation is conducted over a video conferencing platform where the interpreter or at least one participant is in a remote location. Here’s a brief breakdown of how VRI works:

With the help of a device, the end user requiring language support will dial in on their chosen platform to connect with an interpreter. The end user must specify his preferences (e.g. language requirements, interpreter specialization, etc.) so that the system can find the appropriate interpreter.

Through intelligent routing algorithms, the user’s specifications are analyzed, and the system will make an extensive crawl through the interpreter network. Once the best match has been found, the user will be connected to an interpreter who is ready to provide language support in a remote and secure location.

As the discussion begins, the interpreter listens to the speakers and relays messages between the participants in real-time. This process repeats until the encounter is finished.

Video Remote Interpreting vs. Video Relay Service: What’s The Difference?

While both may be communication tools for Deaf and HoH individuals, VRI should not be confused with a Video Relay Service (VRS). In a nutshell, VRS enables Deaf and HoH individuals to make phone calls with a hearing person. The VRS caller uses a device with a camera to contact a sign language interpreter, and the interpreter places a telephone call to the person the Deaf/HoH person wishes to communicate with. VRS is a free service available to the Deaf/HoH community by federal mandate.

VRI is a broader service that allows Deaf and HoH individuals to connect with a remote interpreter where all parties are using a video connection. For example, a Deaf person who has a medical appointment can use VRI to facilitate communication with a doctor in case there are no ASL interpreters available on site. Overall, VRS is tailored for phone conversations while VRI accommodates a wider range of scenarios that require an interpreter’s support.

To learn more about their differences, check out our comparison guide on VRS vs. VRI.

Examples and Applications of Video Remote Interpreting

Video remote interpreting services can be used for all settings, scenarios, and interactions, including Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, and participants who speak different languages. Here’s how VRI can benefit different settings:

Video Remote Interpreting for Healthcare

Video remote interpreting can support healthcare centers with a diverse patient population. In the case of The Orthopedic Institute, the demand for language services in their hospital fluctuated due to their increasingly diverse patient demographic, resulting in scheduling problems, financial losses, and other notable issues.

An on-demand language access plan that includes VRI has solved these problems and allowed them to provide interpretation in over 300 languages, enhancing communication and patient satisfaction. In the hospital’s case, they noted that VRI is incredibly popular among kids and elderly patients. Having face-to-face connections with a remote interpreter facilitated a stronger sense of trust and clarity during patient-doctor interactions, resulting in an improved patient experience.

Video Remote Interpreting for Education

Video remote interpreting can help educational institutions provide on-demand linguistic support for LEP students and their families. For the Las Cruces Public Schools (LCPS), having an on-demand language access plan that included VRI and OPI helped the school’s students and their families communicate effectively during outreach programs, parent-teacher conferences, and other school-related activities.

Interestingly, the school also noted their LEP students frequently use VRI outside the classroom. They mentioned that VRI has been very useful for tasks such as finding the right bus to get on, and this helped students who had just moved into town find their way around. They shared that the comfort and familiarity of VRI is like using Facetime, and the ease of use has been a big benefit to them.

Video Remote Interpreting for Businesses

From a business perspective, VRI can significantly improve one’s bottom line. Serving a diverse clientele and adopting VRI smoothened out Gold Skin Care’s workflow while helping them cut down costs. GSC then relied on a phone-based interpreting service to cater to patients with limited English proficiency (LEP). Since not every room had a hard-wired phone, they had to assign clients carefully based on phone availability.

Fortunately, GSC’s employees were already using tablets to log patient data, so it was easy for them to integrate a virtual interpreting platform into their operations. As a result, adopting VRI allowed them to connect with an interpreter from any room through their tablets, and this shift led to approximately $12,000 in annual savings. They also saw an increase in LEP patient return rates, with over 80% of LEP patients returning for follow-up visits!

5 Main Benefits of Video Remote Interpreting Services to End Users

1. More Access to Interpreters

In certain situations, there aren’t enough on-site interpreters to meet the demand for language services. One of the main benefits of VRI is that it can help organizations cover more encounters that require an interpreter’s support.  Video remote interpreting brings most of the benefits of on-site interpreting, and using an interpretation platform means you’ll be able to tap into a pool of qualified interpreters from around the globe. If your staff interpreters are fully occupied, having a language access plan that includes VRI will expand the number of interpreters that can support you.

2. Face-to-Face Connection

Information needs to be interpreted and communicated accurately in sensitive environments such as healthcare or legal settings. On-site interpretation may not always be available, and VRI is important in providing uninterrupted access to interpreting services. Like on-site interpreting, VRI provides face-to-face visibility between the interpreter and participants, significantly reducing miscommunication and improving trust and understanding.

3. Cost-Effectiveness and Scalability

Compared to the cost of hiring an on-site interpreter, VRI is the more economical option. Contract on-site interpreters have minimum hourly charges, while travel and accommodation expenses may also drive up the total cost of services. For VRI, these charges are eliminated, and language access plans can be easily scaled to adjust to your ever-changing needs!

4. Fast Access to Language Support

Opting for an on-site interpreter requires extensive planning, which may not be ideal for spontaneous situations. One of the biggest benefits of VRI is that users can quickly acquire language support on-demand, which can make all the difference in situations like medical emergencies.

5. Enhanced Security and Privacy

VRI services are provided through a secure and trustworthy platform. Service providers are highly aware that sensitive information is exchanged during encounters, so they make it a point to adhere to compliance standards to guarantee the safety of their end users.

In Boostlingo’s case, our organization constantly improves our security framework by adhering to compliance standards such as SOC 2 Type II Compliance. Moreover, all the interpreters in our network must comply with the Boostlingo Code of Conduct, maintaining confidentiality at all touchpoints.

Communicate Without Barriers Using Video Remote Interpretation

Interpretation services have changed dramatically in the last ten years. Remote interpreting is now an integral part of any language access plan, and VRI fills an important gap by giving organizations expanded access to interpreters. No matter what setting it may be, the benefits of face-to-face communication can help organizations bridge the language gap, optimize their operations, and build better connections with their partners.

If your organization constantly interacts with Deaf, Hard-of-hearing, or limited English proficient individuals, implementing VRI into your workflow will be your best decision. Contact us today to learn more about our on-demand interpretation solutions!

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