Video interpreting is exactly what it says on the tin: interpreting via a video. This can manifest in a couple of ways. An interpreter can appear on-screen to help facilitate a conversation between two parties meeting up in real life. Alternatively, an interpreter can join a two-way video call from a third location.

Almost since the dawn of video technology, video interpreting has been a popular way to break through the language barrier. Now, with face-to-face online video calling via services such as Skype, the process is easier and more convenient than ever before. There are many advantages to video interpretation; in fact, in many situations it is the best route for your translation needs.

The benefits of video interpreting

As advertised by Global Voices, where it tops their list of benefits, one of the best qualities of video interpreting is the vastly reduced cost. While in-person interpreting can include travel fees and expenses, video interpreting will incur neither of these.

Similarly, video interpreting is often more flexible than the in-person alternative, largely because there is no need to arrange travel for the interpreter. Instead, video interpreters are usually based in a call centre that will likely have at least one interpreter available at all times.

The above benefits would apply to over the phone interpreting as well, but video interpreting has one main advantage over this method. The visual presence of a translator allows for a translation of body language, which can often vary across different cultures, and it opens up the possibility of speaking in sign language — a necessity for many.

Who uses video interpreting?

The practice is frequently called upon in hospital Emergency Rooms and other medical emergencies. MobiHealthNews recognised this trend in 2014, saying the vast number of languages video interpreting can help with is perfect in the “ever-growing cultural melting pot” of America.

Because video interpreting headquarters can connect users with a number of different interpreters, each speaking different languages, users are almost guaranteed to find a translator who speaks the language of the patient, no matter how obscure. The alternative to this, which many hospitals pursue, is to hire face-to-face translators.

While there are advantages to this, individual translators working at the hospital are naturally going to be more limited in their range of spoken languages than the groups of multiple interpreters contactable via video. Additionally, the lower cost of video remote interpreting is attractive to hospitals whose budgets are often tight.

Another field where remote video interpretation is often used is in the education sector. Schools may have pupils who speak different languages, but don’t necessarily have in-house staff capable of communicating with them. As DeafWebsites says, sign language video interpreting means deaf children will not be limited in their choice of school to institutions with full-time sign-language-speaking staff.

Businesses, too, often take advantage of video interpreting for all of its advantages, including the low cost and convenience.

What is the downside of video interpreting?

All of these advantages and applications aside, there are those who question the validity of remote video interpreting in some situations. For example, people could argue that video interpreting is not always appropriate for hospital patients, especially those who are visually impaired.

These criticisms, however, have less to do with video interpreting itself and more to do with using it appropriately. Those interested in video remote interpreting should strongly consider whether it is right for the situation they need it for, but in many of the situations outlined above, video interpreting is a surefire path to success.

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