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Video Remote Interpreting

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A Video Interpreter sign used in several countries for locations offering VRS or VRI services
A Video Interpreter sign used in several countries for locations offering VRS or VRI services

Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) uses video or web cameras and telephone lines to provide sign language interpreting services, for deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-impaired individuals, through an offsite interpreter, in order to communicate with hearing persons. It is similar to a slightly different service, Video Relay Service, where the hearing and signing parties are each located in different places.

Contents

Method of use

In a typical VRI situation, the deaf and hearing parties are located together at one location with a videophone or web camera, and a television or computer screen. The interpreter works from another location—either an office, home-based studio or call center—also using a videophone or web camera and television or computer screen.[1] The equipment must provide video and audio connectivity, or a separate telephone line can be used for audio. The video interpreter facilitates communication between the deaf and hearing participants who are located together at the other site. The interpreter hears the voices of the hearing people through the microphone or telephone, and renders the message into sign language into the camera which the deaf person views on their screen. In turn, when the deaf participants sign to the camera, the interpreter views it from their screen, and speaks the aural interpretation into a microphone or telephone for the hearing people.

VRI is a growing field. One popular application is in the hospital emergency room. In this setting, it is essential that deaf patients and caregivers communicate readily with medical personnel, but it may take time for a live interpreter to arrive onsite. Hospitals with VRI capability can connect with a remote interpreter quickly and conduct triage and intake surveys with the deaf patient or caregiver without significant delay. Also, employees who work in office settings are increasingly converting to VRI services to accommodate brief interactions or regular meetings which would be difficult to schedule with an onsite interpreter. Schools and business located in areas not adequately served by existing community interpreters can also benefit from increased access to professional interpreters and save the expense of vendor travel reimbursements.

A Video Interpreter (V.I.) assisting an on-screen client.  Courtesy: SignVideo
A Video Interpreter (V.I.) assisting an on-screen client. Courtesy: SignVideo

Using VRI for medical, legal and mental health settings is controversial in the deaf community, which may feel it does not provide appropriate communication access—particularly in medical settings where the patient's ability to watch the screen or sign clearly to the camera may be compromised. However, businesses and organizations have contended that it meets or exceeds the minimum threshold for reasonable accommodation.

Video Remote Interpreting is distinct from Video Relay Service (VRS) in that it is intended for users who are in the same location. According to U.S. FCC regulations, deaf and hearing people in the same room are not permitted to use VRS to communicate, because the service is designated only for telephone calls[2], and receives funding from Telecommunications Relay Service taxes. The FCC requires that if a VRS interpreter determines callers are in the same location, they must advise both parties that the interpreter must terminate the call. Video Remote Interpreting however, can either be provided for persons in the same location, or different locations, as long as the parties can see or hear the interpreter respectively, and vice versa.

In the past, the term Video Relay Service had been used interchangeable with Video Relay Interpreting, but currently the terms refer to two separate and distinct services. However, a Video Interpreter (V.I.) may refer to the practitioner working in either setting.


See also


References

  1. Video Remote Interpreting, National Association of the Deaf
  2. Video Relay Services, Federal Communications Commission


External Links