ATA Webinar SeriesOn January 25th, 2012, I had the opportunity to present a webinar for the ATA Webinar Series: Freelancing as an OPI and Webcast Interpreter. I was happy to have about 70 curious participants, eager to know about emerging technologies in interpretation and if webcast interpretation was really for them.

During the one-hour presentation, we covered a lot of ground and discussed the following topics for both OPI (Over-the-Phone Interpretation) and Webcast Interpretation, two modes of interpretation where interpreters work at home, in a quiet environment. This post is about OPI. You can read about Webcast Interpreting here.

1) Terminology:

In REMOTE INTERPRETATION, also called RI, interpreters are not in the same room as the speaker; whereas in DISTANT INTERPRETATION, IP-based technology is used. While a conference could be both remote and distant, they are easily confused. A WEBCAST EVENT is an event with audio and video broadcast over the internet. VIDEO REMOTE INTERPRETATION, also called VRI, is used both with foreign language interpretation, as well as deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. COURT REMOTE INTERPRETING, or CRI, also begins to be used in some Judicial Districts.

2) History:

Despite my failed attempt to impress you with the terminology of Over-The-Phone Interpreting, OPI is only 15 years old. In 1997, the service got introduced in Australia, due to immigration in Melbourne and Sydney. In 1998, an American policeman in San Jose brought the service to the U.S.A.

3) Sample industries:

The beauty and challenge of OPI interpretation is that interpreters don’t really know what calls they will get. Having said that, the main industries are Healthcare, Financial and Insurance.

4) Work Scenarios:

We looked at 3 scenarios in which over-the-phone interpreters work:

a) Freelance with a connection element (an agent connects callers and freelancers, who work at home)

b) Independent contractor model, in which the interpretation agency has the client call the interpreter or vice-versa.

c) The call center model, in which interpreters work in a call center environment.

5) Best interpreter profiles:

What does it take to succeed in this profession? One of the most desirable qualities, in my opinion, was to have trained interpreters, with terminology training and solid consecutive note-taking skills.

6) The Good, the Bad and the Ugly:

From best scenarios to ugly scenarios: the perfect situation is when the calls go as planned and the interpreter has a chance to take a break from long calls. But it’s not always like that :(. There can be extremely long calls, or a call in which the interpreter ends up being a bit of customer service.

7) Technology:

My favorite “won’t-interpret-without technology” for OPI is a land line that allows me to control the sound with a sound amplifier, just in case callers’ sounds is too low.

8) Quality and Improvement in the Industry:

At a minimum, interpreters need to be accurate, clear, ethical and have great customer service skills. But by improving their long consecutive skills, interpreters can improve their game and the customer’s experience.

You can also click here to download the my PowerPoint and other materials I created for the ATA.

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