How to get the best Video Remote Interpreting results

American Language Services has been helping businesses, educational & government institutions, law offices, healthcare providers, medical facilities, non-profits, and many other industries with their interpreting needs for almost 4 decades. Most recently, Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) has become a much more vital service due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. With so many people now working remotely and safety concerns limiting in-person meetings, VRI has shot to the forefront of the industry.

Fortunately, we have offered VRI to clients for many years and have thousands of hours of experience under our belts. We have tremendous amount of experience in working with a multitude of popular VRI Platforms. VRI has the capability of handling live streaming which requires special technical arrangements.  Read on for a bit of information about the landscape for VRI and some of the important elements you need to know.

What Is Video Remote Interpreting (VRI)?

VRI is interpreting conducted via a video calling service like Zoom, MSN, SKYPE, and Google to name some. The interpreters, the person needing interpreting, and any necessary third parties are pulled into the video call. This digital option allows you to have the benefits of in-person interpreting with lower costs and increased convenience. Additionally, it allows interpreters to be used in circumstances that might be unsafe, or geographically too isolated for an In-person option. While many in the public and private sectors have been slow to pick up on VRI, hospitals and police stations have been using it for years. Because it can quickly be set up anywhere with a decent internet connection and video access, it is the go-to-choice in emergency situations.

How Does VRI Work?

If you have a computer, phone, or tablet with wi-fi and a camera, you can use VRI. Except for being able to view your interpreter in real-time, over a video feed, it functions in a very similar way to In-person interpreting. To begin, you just place a VRI request with us or your chosen service provider.

We will then connect you with a qualified interpreter in your requested language. The entire set-up process is quick, straightforward, and simple. Using the service itself, meanwhile, is a breeze. After the video link is activated, it typically takes less than a minute to get the ball rolling. Once connected, the interpreter listens to the meeting and provides instantaneous interpreting.

Now, it’s important not to confuse video remote interpreting with so-called “automated interpreting applications.” Though several devices and phone apps claim to provide real-time audio interpreting, these tools are rarely up to the task. They’re only about 65% accurate, limited conceptually and have trouble properly handling tone, nuance, cultural sensitivity, and terminology. Conveying the true candor and meaning of a conversation is still something only a human being can do.

9 Tips for Improving Your VRI Sessions

Many of us have seen what can happen when remote meetings go wrong. Many of us have experienced being stuck at the end of a VRI call with unacceptable lag time, low-quality video feed, or, worse yet, been unable to use the service for technical reasons. Using the right VRI Set up is crucial in avoiding these issues. Below are some important tips to help the meeting go to plan:

  1. Pass Out Necessary Information Ahead of Time: An interpreter with a clear understanding of the situation will do a better job. If there are handouts, glossaries, or websites that will be discussed during the call, send them to your VRI ahead of time. This will make it easier for them to assist your client.
  2. Verify All Staff Are Trained in Use of the Equipment: Some offices have one person who knows how to set up a VRI Call. Don’t be that company. If you are looking to rely on video remote interpreting over the long term, multiple people should be taught how to launch and manage a meeting.
  3. Allow Extra Time for Communication: Because of both the short amount of lag time and the time it takes for interpreting itself, conversations with a remote interpreter are a little slower than those without one. Be patient and give the interpreter time to reply. This will help everything run more smoothly.
  4. For American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreting, Check Your Lighting: If the end-user cannot see the ASL interpreter’s hands clearly, deaf people will have an awfully hard time negotiating the conversation. Lights that are too bright or too dim can also make it difficult to interpret facial expressions or read lips. For that reason, you should limit the lighting behind all parties and take steps to adjust the room to allow for better communications.
  5. Communicate Directly to the Person and Not Their Interpreter: While it can be tempting to speak to the person who you can understand and who speaks your language, this can be seen as rude. In many cases, it can leave the foreign speaker feeling marginalized or sidelined. So, be sure to always keep your eyes on the person you’re speaking with.
  6. Check the Equipment Before the Meeting Starts: Have you started a conference call only to realize your microphone does not work? Almost everyone has. That is why it is so important to test equipment prior to joining the meeting. Check your camera positioning and audio equipment in a faux meeting before joining the real one. Not doing so can lead to delays and negative feelings for all involved. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  7. Charge Any Devices you will use on the VRI call: A dead cell or mobile device battery can derail a VRI session If you have tablets you use, make sure that they are charged at the end of every shift. If you have difficulties getting that done, consider adding it to a nightly checklist.
  8. Let the Person Needing Interpreting Services Determine the Time and Location: Maybe your client prefers to sit in their chair instead of in a hospital bed. Or, perhaps, they want the call in the late afternoon. If you can accommodate it, let the person requesting interpreting pick the time and position they are comfortable with. This makes things easier for everyone involved.
  9. Introduce All Parties Prior to Starting the Call: It can be hard to get someone’s attention when you do not know their names. You are either stuck waving your arms like an inflatable man at the car dealership or calling out to a vague “you” in hopes that they reply. So, before getting down to business, have everyone take a few seconds to share their names and a little bit about themselves.

About American Language Services

Founded in 1985, American Language Services was there to help pioneer the rise in remote ASL interpreting options. Our dedication to quality and client satisfaction in interpreting allowed us to shift from a one-woman agency into one of the most successful language agencies in the world. Our language experts provide CART and ASL interpreting services to people all around the world. Because of our 24/7 availability, you’ll never have to worry about us not picking up the phone.

AML-Global has some of the most impressive linguistic talents in the world. These highly skilled language professionals are recruited, screened, and tested to ensure high-quality work.

Contact us by email at or via phone at 1-800-951-5020 for a free estimate.


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