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.
Many deaf people do not like video remote interpreting for complicated medical visits or emergency room communication. This is understandable. Many times things move so fast in the ER, it can be hard to keep the video screen in a good area so that the interpreter and the deaf individual are able to easily communicate. Some medical appointments are more involved and can take a lot of adjusting to manipulate the position of the screen that the interpreter is being displayed on. However, there are some medical appointments that this is a great option for the deaf patient, especially if you are having a hard time finding available ASL interpreters in your area.
The best way to tell if choosing VRI or an in person ASL interpreter is a good fit, is to simply ask the deaf consumer which they would prefer you to schedule before appointment time. This of course cannot be done in emergency situations, but after getting feedback from deaf individuals you should be able to get a good idea of what types of appointments deaf consumers are comfortable with using a digital solution apposed to an in person interpreter. The American Disabilities Act states that deaf or hard of hearing people are entitled to a reasonable line of communication. This can be very different for different people and taking the time to understand each individuals needs is paramount.
Most medical offices and hospitals that serve those in the deaf community utilize a mixture of ASL VRI and in person ASL interpretation to accommodate all of their patients needs. Just because VRI is a cheaper solution in some cases, does not mean that it is a viable solution. If the medical office does not have access to a reliable and fast internet connection, Video Remote Interpreting will not be a good fit. Choosing to use cell phones is another unacceptable way to utilize these services. However, with the proper setup and communication with patients, using interpreters provided over the internet can offer many different benefits to hearing employees and deaf patients alike.
No matter how good a sign language interpreter is, if they are on a video and it is tiny or poor quality, they cannot assist in the way they can when they are unhindered. Many times deaf consumer think that VRI is a bad service solely because they have had a bad experience caused by hardware that is not up to par. If your business takes advantage of VRI interpreting services to communicate with deaf or hard of hearing individuals, you must assure that your tablet or computer is up to snuff.
There are many different standards that are suggested by video remote interpreting companies. Each has their own specifications and they vary rather widely. If you are working with a VRI company currently, it is probably best to adhere to their own setup requirements. Depending on which application is being used to stream the video, this can change. Some video remote sign language services utilize dedicated applications, while others leverage web apps that run inside a web browser window, so there is nothing to install. Depending which way a companies streaming video interpreting service utilizes, there can be a big difference in hardware needs.
VRI Hardware Requirements Checklist
There are some national standards set forth by deaf advocacy groups that should be the baseline across the board. The requirements listed below are simply a culmination of the highest quality standards that are set for by a variety of sources to assure that the quality is at its best when you need to utilize a remote sign language interpreter.
- 17” Monitors or larger are highly suggested
- Screen Resolution 1920 x 1080 and above is preferred for HD video
- Computer with a dedicated video card.
- Onboard video cards are not suggested.
- Late model Intel core processor I5 and I7 preferred
- 8 GB+ of Ram preferred
- Hard Drive 500GB+
- Must have at least 5gb of free space for windows swap file while streaming live video.
- Computer should only be utilized for the VRI while video session is live.
- Hardwired Ethernet internet connection. WiFi can work, but does have more lag is the signal is weak.
Other Possible Options
If there is a dire need and the requirements above simply cannot be met, these are some other options that may be able to provide a reasonable quality of service in a pinch. Again, these are not suggested, but they can offer a way to communicate while your business is working on setting up the needed hardware for future usage.
- 5th Gen iPads or most models of iPad pro can be effective, the screen size can be limiting.
- Laptops with large screens can be used, but very rarely do they have dedicated video cards and many times the on board cameras are not very good.
- Wireless connectivity is generally slower and has more lag time than Ethernet connections. Many mobile devices can only connect to WiFi and this can become a bottleneck in the quality of VRI services, so they should be avoided if possible.
- Cell phones are never a good solution. They are simply too small and do not provide an acceptable accommodation to the deaf and hard of hearing individual.
We hope this checklist helps you find out what area can be improved at your place of business to provide real functional accessibility to deaf employees or deaf patrons of your business. It is important to ask the deaf individual if the current mode of communication is working well for them. Communication is a two way road and if you ask you may find out other simple changes that could be made to make for an even more effected environment in which to communicate with others.
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?
Comments are open on this post, let us know what you think about our list, do you have something to add to it?
No we are not from Texas, but there are still some things in life that are always better the bigger they are, like an ice cream cone. When you are talking about American Sign Language, there is another thing that can be very useful at a larger scale. In person services are of course offered in full scale to provide the service, but if you look at VRI services, some people try to get away with a tiny device to make things easier, like somebody’s cell phone. This is not a good idea because there may be a lot of trouble with the communication with the deaf individual on a screen this small.
Can you imagine trying to see the small movements of fingers on a 4″ screen? Well, I can tell you that it is not a good user experience and at best, it may suffice in a time sensitive emergency. Still, if the message is important, you will never know if it is coming across as it is being conveyed correctly. Small screens are a thing of the past, the price of larger displays has come down dramatically in the past years. Choosing a larger tablet or computer monitor is a much more financially feasible decision than it was 5 years ago.
So, go big or go home really means something in this case. Deaf consumers are already hesitant to utilize video remote interpreting services for a variety of reasons. If your company is going to move to or is already using VRI services to provide a open line of communication for your office; why not provide a realistically sized screen to make sure that the deaf consumer is able to see the signs clearly? You don’t need an array of screens like in the photo from NASA at the top of this page. Just a large tablet or good sized computer screen will make all the difference in the world!
After all, the goal of using such services is to make communication easier, not harder. Lets face it for a couple hundred bucks, you have acquire a 21″ or 23″ monitor or for about the same price you can get a 21 inch tablet on Amazon. Either way this will be much better than a tiny screen and your deaf employees or deaf patients will love you for it. VRI also offers savings over in person interpretation and can be used on demand, not scheduled ahead. So, the ball is your court, go out and get some gear and start reaping the rewards of big time VRI solutions today.
So, you live in a remote area and you need ASL interpreters at your place of business. Well, you most likely have already found out how hard it is to secure a certified interpreter, when there may only be 1 or a handful in your area. This can make scheduling ASL interpretation for an employee or a deaf customer pretty tricky. Many times you may have to work around the interpreters schedule instead of your own, if you want to guarantee that you can get the coverage you need to communicate freely with a deaf consumer. These complications can be frustrating for the paying entity as well as the deaf consumer.
Another big problem that many businesses that operate in remote areas come across is travel time charges. If you cannot get a local interpreter, you may have to pay somebody to drive from an hour or more away. These charges can really add up and they make providing the services that the deaf individual needs very costly. Face to face interpretation is certainly favored when it can be used, but there are some vri solutions that really can make this a much better situation as far as interpreter availability and price too!
Video remote interpreting can be a great solution for casual conversations like doctors visits or help at a variety of business locations like buying a car or home. Even one on one meetings can go very smooth using VRI instead of a in person asl interpreter. It is certainly worth looking at some of the VRI agencies out there and finding out if they can offer you more convenience or save you money compared to your current solution for sign language needs. After all, you just need an internet connection and a computer or tablet to connect to these services and you can open up the interpreter pool to nationwide access, instead of local access alone.
We wish you the best of luck and hope you find a great solution that will be able to provide you a great quality of service for years to come!