COVID-19: Our experience with Remote Simultaneous Interpreting

Covid has changed everyone’s work habits. How did these changes affect conference interpreters? In this article we’ll give some insights about our experience of going digital with Remote Simultaneous Interpreting (RSI).

THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE

RSI was not, of course, a new phenomenon. On several occasions interpreters had been called to provide their services remotely before Covid as well. They were working though in specialized facilities (remote hubs), which were technically fully equipped and staffed with tech experts as well. The difference now is that we need to offer our services from home and take care of all technical issues ourselves.

 

CONVERTING YOUR HOME INTO A DIGITAL WORKSTATION

Equipment arrangements did not use to fall within the scope of the interpreter’s role. The event organisers usually assigned such responsibilities to technicians, who prepared everything beforehand and then just showed us how to use the equipment. However, when working from home, to a great extent an interpreter needs to assume the role of a technician as well. And as you can imagine, one’s home may be lacking all those powerful tools provided in a specialized centre.

Covid has thus inflicted a technical burden on interpreters. Many of us needed, for example, to upgrade our internet speed, buy quality headsets, more powerful computers, extra monitors or even a battery backup in the event that the regular power supply fails, just to name a few challenges. Particularly challenging is also the attempt to secure a quiet workstation, while other family members are attending school or working from home as well. As you can understand, all this requires considerable investments to be made.

 

THE POSITIVE ASPECT

On the other hand though, remote interpreting for me was a pleasant and exciting activity as well. This incredible flexibility of being able to work from anywhere is what fascinated me the most. During the last year I could work in online events without having to consider location as a restrictive factor. Furthermore, I had the chance to build new synergies with colleagues, whom under normal circumstances it would have been impossible to collaborate with, due to the physical distance between us.

For this reason, I think that RSI could be particularly promising for all those colleagues residing far from large urban centres, where most conferences and events usually take physically place. It remains to see how this trend of online events will evolve in the after-covid era.

 

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