Language Services November 13, 2021

Five Tech Tips for Interpreters New to Video

As the COVID-19 pandemic has persisted throughout the last two years, technology has offered healthcare professionals an opportunity to virtually provide continuity of care for their patients. Of these innovations, Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) has continued to rise in popularity as an accessible, reliable language access solution.

While VRI facilitates ease of care for non-English speaking clients, transitioning from on-site practice to a virtual environment can present unique challenges for interpreters in their quest to provide quality service. For those interpreters new to the camera, here are five simple and practical tips that can help smooth the transition and ensure a positive experience for both you and the Limited English Proficient patients you serve.

1. Invest in Equipment

An important component of quality remote interpretation is the equipment you have supporting your practice. You do not need to purchase the most expensive computer, microphone, or headset to feel confident in your interpreting—there are many affordable and reliable options available. An external camera is recommended over a built-in camera for optimized visualization. To best prevent background noise and communicate clearly, you should also invest in a quality, noise cancelling, easy to connect headset for your sessions. Most importantly, make sure you feel comfortable with the headset model you pick, as you will be using it for long periods of time. Many Language Services companies provide employees with the equipment needed to work as a Video Remote Interpreter.

2. Establish High-Speed Internet Access

To maintain clear and effective two-way video sessions, you must have a high-speed internet connection with the bandwidth to support consistent video and audio streaming.

Contact your internet service provider to explore available speeds and make sure to run a speed test on your router once it’s installed. Internet speed doesn’t help in the unfortunate event of a power outage at home—so, investing in an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) can help you stay connected if you’re in a jam. Also, wireless hotspots are not recommended as they tend to be unreliable for video sessions.

3. Set Up a Quiet, Professional Work Setting

No matter your situation at home—children, pets, ongoing work, etc.—it is crucial to find a quiet, private space to hold your interpretation sessions. Establishing a private environment will ensure you can clearly focus during each call and prevent unwanted interruptions, while also complying with privacy laws. Some interpreters find it helpful to post a sign on the door when they are working to avoid disruptions and background noise.

Healthcare providers and patients will be able to see your studio. If you are using a pop-up background, ensure that it is clean and without wrinkles, so no seams are visible. Chroma blue key backdrops are great to reduce visual background noise.

Another factor you will want to consider is the lighting. Although natural light looks great on screen, it can be challenging to maintain when it’s rainy or too cloudy. For this reason, artificial lighting is the best way to set up a consistently well-lit studio. To inspire a professional office look, use a bulb temperature that is cooler, rather than warmer. Daylight lightbulbs that are 5500K Kelvins or above will do the trick. Another tip when choosing lightbulbs is to assess the correct lumens for your space. If you are setting up in a smaller space, lower lumens are recommended. However, if setting up in a larger space with high ceilings, you will want lightbulbs with high lumens, as high as 1600 or above. Additionally, multiple sources work best. For example, you could use both a ceiling light and a lamp.

4. Get to Know Your Video Platform

In a virtual environment, your video conferencing platform will be equally as important to your practice as the equipment you use to run it. Each platform possesses its own operational nuances, so you need to get to know yours before you start interpreting healthcare sessions.

Take some time to learn the basic settings and functionalities of the platform so you feel confident with the technology and can focus on what matters most—providing top-quality interpretation services.  

5. Run a Test Call Before Going Live

Once you have set up your equipment and established your workspace, you are almost ready to start working as a Video Remote Interpreter! Before your first session, run a test call to make sure each aspect of your setup is running smoothly—open your video platform, run a sound check, and double check your internet connectivity. This way, you won’t encounter any unexpected hitches in your interpretation service.

Are you an interpreter interested in expanding your career? We are hiring Video Remote Interpreters in a wide variety of languages and provide equipment and training to Interpreters who are new to video. Learn more about the nationwide on-site and remote career opportunities currently offered by AMN Healthcare Language Services.

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