On January 12-13, 2019, PRIMS, the Private Market Sector of the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) met in London to present its members with a unique opportunity: coming face to face with providers of Remote Simultaneous Interpretation (RSI).
The timing could not have been better. Remote interpretation is a new trend that brings about much excitement and a great deal of concern over the unknown implications of this gamechanger.
KUDO was one of the six platforms invited to get their technology in front of interpreters who, in turn, were able to try the different solutions and share their opinions and wish list directly to the providers. All amid a very collaborative atmosphere.
One of the sessions was dedicated to reviewing the results of a series of tests carried out by the AIIC Technical and Health Committee. These aimed at determining the degree to which the six platforms in attendance comply with ISO standards 20108/20109.
The study acknowledges that positive steps have been taken by all the platforms to significantly improve their product during the past year and their effort to comply with the relevant ISO standards. Details will soon be made public, providing RSI platforms with one more opportunity to adjust their specs accordingly.
Another highlight of the conference was the AIIC Guidelines on Distance Interpreting, published a few days before the meeting and reviewed in London. The document reflects the great efforts done by AIIC to ensure proper working conditions for interpreters and safeguard their wellbeing.
Distance interpreting unveils substantial market opportunities, and cooperation among providers can only bring positive results, as it allows us to more effectively address a global need: more multilingual content.
Many meetings and conferences still force participants to struggle in a foreign language – usually English – because the logistics and investment required to hire interpreters and lease conventional conferencing equipment are out of reach to many. RSI holds the promise of a more affordable solution that could benefit all parties.
On day one, each RSI provider was given 10 minutes to introduce their technology and what made them different. Interpreters were then asked to sign up to test drive up to two platforms of their choice, in 10-minute slots, over a period of six hours the following day.
On day two, a group of nearly 180 interpreters took turns trying the six platforms. KUDO clocked non-stop activity, with as many as 60 interpreters moving in and out of its booth. To make the comparison fair, all providers were streaming the same source of speeches, delivered by interpreting colleagues from a state-of-the-art studio in Hamburg.
KUDO also provided interpretation remotely, from New York and London, interpreters could experience the relay function. Also, the colleagues who agreed to try KUDO were given a sheet with boxes to check as they went, to make sure they’d experience KUDO’s many features.
The conference closed with an insightful debate, where interpreters could speak their mind freely and voice concerns over a wide range of issues, as follows:
Interpreters are bound by the strictest secrecy. Consequently, they take the issue of confidentiality very seriously, and they were interested in knowing how the different RSI platforms ensure that data remains confidential. KUDO reiterated it implements a vast array of security features to ensure all of the data transiting the platform is encrypted from end to end. This includes video, audio, chat, and documents. It also provides ways for users to control access to specific participants and to never any personally identifiable information.
Interpreters harbor the fear that they may be unfairly held responsible for technical issues such as a dropped connection on the remote end. This is crucial for our colleagues, as their reputation is directly linked to their track record in the booth. For obvious reason, they don’t want that reputation tarnished by glitches over which they have no control.
Resolving this issue is a must if interpreters are to give distance interpreting a try. KUDO understands these concerns and works proactively to ensure that business interruptions and technical failures are minimized or eliminated.
KUDO is also adamant in suggesting that interpreters do not work from home. In such uncontrolled environments, the unexpected can always happen. Instead, KUDO encourages interpreters to work out of a KUDO Studio whenever possible. Eleven of such hubs are already in operation in the Americas, with another two being launched this week in Europe.
The studios feature a set of ISO-compliant booths, for total peace of mind, redundant Internet connectivity, power surge protection and a technician on stand by, for complete peace of mind. Interpreters willing to set up their own studios can rely on KUDO to provide detailed specifications. Here’s a good video review of a KUDO Studio in Washington, DC.
KUDO also works directly with clients to make them aware of the limits of an interpreters’ responsibility. This is done through a series of preemptive disclaimers aimed at protecting the reputation of interpreters.
The PRIMS meeting of London was unique in that it provided valuable independent feedback on aspects affecting all part of the RSI spectrum. It goes to show that the AIIC understands that Distance Interpretation is a reality and that the Association needs to do its best to move conference interpreters and RSI platforms towards the ultimate goal: overcoming language barriers globally. No-one should ever be forced to speak a foreign language that limits their ability to communicate in a context where stakes are high.
KUDO enormously appreciates AIIC’s help in setting the standards for RSI, and it supports the way in which the association is approaching the future of the interpreting profession. By including not just interpreters but also providers in the conversation, AIIC ensures that all parties will be sensitive to each other’s needs and concerns and respond to them more constructively.
And I felt privileged to be there in my capacity as KUDO’s Interpreter Outreach Assistant.
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