With the national shortage of qualified and certified American Sign Language interpreters, many companies are starting to look at sign language video remote interpreting solutions to fill the need. Video remote interpreting or VRI as it is commonly referred to, is not always the best solution for providing language access to deaf individuals, but it is growing in popularity and the quality of these services have certainly raised in the past few years.
Deaf consumers are warming up to the idea of accessing professional interpreters via video now that the video streams are much clearer and that they can be accessed almost immediately in many cases. When interpreting services are not scheduled for an appointment, services like this can save the day and get a certified interpreter on site in a matter of minutes.
When Is A VRI A Good Fit For Deaf Consumer?
The best way to find out if a VRI session is a good fit for any given setting is to ask the agency or the deaf consumer. Both will have slightly different input, but this should give you a very good understanding of what works and what does not. Usually video remote interpreting is used for more casual and simple encounters. If there is paperwork involved, a live interpreter is always better. If there are complicated terminology that may require a lot of clarification, again a face to face interpreter is preferred. Simple office visits, one on one business meetings and other casual and controlled settings are where VRI really shines.
Sign Language Video Remote Software
Depending on which VRI agency you choose to work with, there are many different apps, software and API’s that may be used to create the video and audio connection needed for a successful video remote interpreting session. Depending on your needs there are benefits to each. Some companies offer apps in the app store, which seems counter intuitive. You certainly do not want to use a screen as small as a mobile phone for interpreting. Some have software that has to be installed on every computer that will be taking advantage of the ASL VRI connections. The companies that offer cloud based video remote interpreting services seem to the easiest to implement. These video remote sessions simply run inside of a browser window and do not require any installation at all. This is a huge benefit for larger organizations who may be working from computers with security policies applied, so they do not have access to install third party software.
Are Sign Language Video Remote Interpreting Services Compliant?
That is a great question, what about the ADA laws? What about HIPAA? The Registry for Interpreter of the Deaf, The National Association for the Deaf as well as American’s with Disabilities Act specialists have all agreed that this is a valid reasonable line of communication to offer deaf individuals. Now, this does not mean for every situation. There are plenty of times where you really should provide an in person interpreter. If you are not sure, just ask. Deaf individuals will let you know if it will work for them. If you have a deaf patient, employee or customer with low vision, you should not consider VRI and always provide live ASL interpreters on site!
There are many nationwide ASL services that now offer a version of video remote interpreting to their customers for convenience. This is a valuable solution in many cases, but it is usually a good idea to work with a company that actually has a working relationship with the interpreters in your area. Some of these companies have never even met the interpreters that they will be providing to you. This is not always a problem, but it can make it hard to find an interpreter that is a good fit for certain settings or special needs of different deaf consumers. National ASL services usually offer a convenience of having interpreters that can service clients across the country, but they do not always have the best service because of this.
National ASL Services & VRI
Do ASL Interpreters On Video Need A State License
One of the biggest problems with some of these services is that they usually do not keep track of state and other local requirements. They simply look at the national certifications that are required for American Sign Language interpreters to work in the community. However, there are many states that now do require a state licence to work in their state legally. This is also true of video remote interpreters even if they are operating from another state in some areas.
How Do Video Remote Interpreting Agencies Evaluate Interpreters?
This is a great question and certainly one you should ask any company before you choose to move forward with their VRI ASL services. It is very important to evaluate an interpreters performance and their setup when we are talking about nationwide ASL services. Even if the sign language interpreters they employ are great, that does not make a difference if they have a low resolution video camera, choppy internet connection or distracting backgrounds in their VRI station. Evaluating each interpreter is the only way to assure a high quality of service to each deaf individual.
Sign Language Video Remote Interpreting Customer Service
This is a big part of the service. National VRI and ASL companies are known to be hard to deal with and always in a hurry because they have to get to that next call. When your goal is to provide an exceptional service for deaf individual, you must take your time and understand all the small things about the setting and individual to be able to make sure the VRI session goes off with no hitches. Make sure you find a great ASL VRI company that can help you help them understand your needs, before they try to meet them.
How To Pick A Remarkable Nationwide ASL Service
You must do some research to assure that you are picking a great provider. National ASL VRI services are easy to find online, there are many out there. We think you should interact with more than one before you choose who to do business with. Can you get an email response fast? If you call them are they friendly and willing to take time to understand your needs? Can they explain how you can easily setup their service on a tablet or laptop in your office? Do they abide by state interpreting license laws?
If you ask these questions and look around, you will be sure to find a great video remote interpreting company that can help you provide a reasonable line of communication to dear employees and customers at your office.
If you are looking for a more convenient way to get access to interpreters in your office VRI may be the solution you have been looking for. The immediate benefits that many people look at when it comes to this sign language interpreting solution usually revolve around saving on the cost. In reality, that should not be the primary concern. Ultimately you want to make sure the service you are using offers the best communication possible for the deaf and hard of hearing individual that you are providing the services for.
The biggest convenience that most people find after using video remote interpreters is the fact that you do not have give directions, wait for the interpreter to find you in the building and then get settled. Using VRI, the interpreter just shows up on time when you are ready for the appointment, meeting or other communication with a deaf individual. Especially in offices with limited space, this can be a huge convenience.
VRI video remote interpreting services can be helpful for many different languages. Rather it is a spoken language or sign language, this service can be very helpful for those in need of interpretation or translation services. Using video streaming technology, you can get access to interpreters at almost any location around the world. Many companies are moving to these services to streamline the process of finding and utilizing language services in their place of business.
Many deaf and hard of hearing consumers still prefer to have an in person interpreter for some types of appointments. It is worth taking the time to discuss the types of services your deaf employee or deaf customer may prefer to utilize. Often times, you will get valuable feedback and this will help you choose the right type of ASL interpreter setup for future encounters as well. A big part of communicating with any person, is understanding how to do it effectively. Working with deaf consumers can really open your eyes to new opportunities to communicate clearer and more fluidly in some instances.
Just like any service, it is highly recommended to vet any company you choose to work with prior to making requests. Some companies can be very easy to work with and will supply highly skilled and qualified interpreters. However, that is not always the case. Make sure to get all your questions answered early on, this will usually give you a good feel for the company. Today it is also pretty easy to find reviews of service based businesses online to get an idea of what type of experience others have had with the American Sign Language company you are looking into.
There is no doubt that cloud computing has changed the way that many businesses operate. Video remote interpreting companies have been able to benefit from this new type of distributed computing as much as any other. The scale-ability of streaming video becomes much more feasible when you are able to leverage the resources of multiple servers simultaneously, as needed. This is the same technology Netflix uses to stream millions of videos to users all over the country simultaneously. VRI has had a bad wrap in the past mostly because of concerns about the quality of the live feed, but this is changing now that cloud services are becoming more and more affordable.
What Is Cloud Computing?
This is a term that gets used for a variety of apps and services in the networking world. However, the cloud in essence, is nothing more than a group of servers that are dedicated to a single task. This means that a website or a video feed can be processed by one server or if the need be, by hundreds of servers at the same time depending on the resources needed to provide a fast load time for the end user. Think of the cloud as a huge group of computers, ready to work hard to make sure that services are delivered through the internet as quickly and effectively as possible.
Server instances or cpu cycles are usually how cloud hosting providers measure usage, but this is not a concern to the end user. You should just rest assured that if you are making use of VRI services for sing language interpreting to communicate with deaf employees or deaf customers that your video will be streaming without lag as long as you have a reasonable internet connection speed. The cloud servers do the work to make sure that your video doesn’t drop a frame, get laggy or blocky on screen!
The Cloud Has Many Uses
The cloud is used for many different type of services today as you can see depicted in image above. Everything from database driven applications, to network storage can take advantage of this powerful and robust service. You may already be using cloud services and not even know it. Most of the larger email platforms like Gmail and others use cloud hosting to make sure you get messages in a timely manor. This is a great way to provide many services.
As more and more VRI companies start to utilize the cloud for the back-end of their service offerings, the quality of service should raise across the board. Does your sign language VRI company use the power of cloud server and cloud hosting for their video interpreting services?
Using Cloud based video remote interpreting makes providing services for deaf and hard of hearing individuals easier today than it has ever been. This makes accessibility a problem of the past and also brings down the cost of interpretation for companies that need to provide such services. When the cost comes down, it only makes more sense that more people will move to this on demand service that allows communication with deaf people, on the fly whenever it may be needed!
With so many rules, regulations and laws surrounding almost every service in today society, there are many different aspects to consider, especially when you are choosing an american sign language service provider for your business.
This is even more complicated when you start investigating the new video remote interpreting services that many of these companies offer. It is important to understand how your liabilities are protected as a company and how the quality of service is monitored or assured by these types of agencies.
If you don’t ask the right questions, in some states you may even be paying for a service that is not considered to be a legal form of communication for deaf individuals. Take a look at the list below and see how your current video remote interpreting agency stacks up to the others available today.
5 Things To Ask A VRI Agency
Can you provide credentials for your interpreters if requested?
Many companies ask interpreters if they are certified, but do they actually hold up to date copies of their credentials to prove this? This is very important, if there was ever a complaint or an issue with the services you receive, this can be very important to protect your liabilities and prove that the services rendered were provided by a properly qualified interpreter.
Do your interpreters hold a state license?
This is very similar to the first question here, not every state requires this, but it is very important if your state does require interpreters to be licensed. This is something that for some reason many companies choose to overlook out of convenience. If you find a VRI company not using licensed interpreters, you need to stop utilizing their services immediately. There are laws in states that have interpreting licensure that do not allow sign language interpreters from taking community work. This is a huge no no, please ask!
What is your minimum billable time?
There is a very wide variance across the board. The minimum billing time, can really change the overall cost of these types of services. If you have to for 30 minutes or 1 hour of service and only need to use the service for 15 minutes at a time, ASL services for the deaf and hard hearing can become very expensive, very fast.
Do you lease hardware to provide VRI?
This may not be something for everybody. Some people would prefer to buy a computer with a large display or a large screen tablet to use like an iPad. However, there are some companies who would rather just have the complete setup provided so they do not need to look into hardware purchase for their own company. Not every company provides hardware setups, but the ones that do have already made sure they are up to the specifications required for a great service.
Does your company offer on demand services?
Many companies offer video remote interpreting services, but they do not fully staff ASL interpreters to be available unless they have a specific request from a customer. If you are working with a company that does not have sufficient staff, you are missing out on one of the biggest advantages to using this service. Finding a sign language agency that offers on demand video remote interpreting will allow you to get communication services for deaf individuals as needed.
So, now that you have seen the top 5 questions to ask a video remote interpreting company before you even consider doing business with them, how does your current provider stack up?
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