I have been video interpreting for a little while now. I actually happened across the job because a friend on FB posted a wanted ad, who was actually posting on behalf of another party. As much as I hate FB, there are certainly advantages to being a part of a social networking site.
I love video interpreting, with me here in Canada, there aren’t that many opportunities to interpret into Auslan, so this is fantastic. I have noticed a few issues with it though, which I thought that I would share.
I have managed to organise access to a fantastic connection, so from my end, everything is great, apparently I appear as if I was in the next room, the picture is amazing, but even though my connection is great, with fantastic speeds, it doesn’t mean that all is well at the other end, thus the perils of video interpreting.
The setting that I am interpreting for is one Deaf person, where for the most part there is one person speaking, but they also have audience participation for a part of each session. A device, which is brought by the Deaf person is placed on a table or bench, when then captures the audio from the speakers voice, which I then interpret from. The device that is catching the sound (phone?) is not directly next to the speaker, so when the speaker moves or other people in the room cough, scrape chairs/ tables, open & shut doors, papers are moved, bags or drinks opened etc, it makes it incredibly hard for me to decipher the spoken content that I’m there to interpret.
This would differ to face to face interpreting as I would have the ability to ask for someone to speak up, to move around the room if needed & my hearing would be better able to distinguish those sounds & filter out the additional noise much better than the device that is being used, which only gives auditory feedback from whatever makes the loudest noise nearby.
If the connection is bad from that end, so that I can’t even decipher very much of the spoken content to interpret from, this makes it very frustrating both for the Deaf person & myself. The decision was made, by another party, a few sessions ago to stop the video content from the Deaf persons end, to allow more bandwidth to capture the audio, but in doing so, that means that I have NO form of feedback from them. So how do I know if my interpreting is even making sense? Or even receive feedback about a sign that I may have presented that they are unfamiliar with or that I have presented in a confusing fashion?
There is a heavy reference to images, which are shown to the group & discussed, even though I have asked repeatedly for copies prior to each session, so far I haven’t had any luck. We have made progress though, with me receiving notes from previous sessions, including a session I only just did the other day. By not having any access to the information, which the presenter has even acknowledged has been prepared prior to each session, it means that I am for the most part blindly referring to parts within images that I have no personal reference point with.
Added to that, having audio that drops out due to distractions in the room etc, there are HUGE chunks that are missed, that wouldn’t be if the notes were made available prior, as I would have some background knowledge. Even in a face to face situation having notes prior is a fantastic resource, I have interpreted at funerals where people were so nervous, that they read their speech so fast it was hard to decipher what they said. However, with the notes & speeches provided to me beforehand, I then had the background knowledge that many others in the room already had & could still impart that knowledge to the person I was interpreting for. Without that knowledge though, I find that I’m lost most of the time & having reviewed notes from the last session, after the fact, I can see where some of my interpreting without any prior knowledge would have been nothing short of confusing. Again not such a big issue in this instance if I was interpreting in the flesh, I could align myself so that I could quickly glance at the images & point to areas that are being discussed. Ideally being there face to face, you can align yourself so that the Deaf person has a good line of sight, able to see the interpreter & also the material that is being referenced in the session as well.
Things that I have done to improve the quality of the video interpreting have been to use a good quality camera, not just using the one that came with my computer.
Locating a place with a decent upload & download speed, your average internet connection that you have at home for $30 a month generally isn’t going to cut it.
I am also trying out different types of headphones to find ones that work best for me & my needs, this is still on-going. I find that headsets/ over the ear headphones are often too large for my head (even at the smallest setting) & bulky, so I am concerned about visual distractions, sets of speakers do help, but don’t seem to help that much & inner ear headphones often are too large for my ear canals (even with the sets that have 3 different sizes to pick from & me using the smallest ones they provide). Having headphones or speakers do definitely help to enhance the sound so that I can interpret, but there are other factors at play as mentioned.