Interpreting Services are Changing with the Times

The role of interpreter has changed much over the years. Gone are the days when an interpreter just had to know how to verbally translate words from one language into another. In addition to language skills, professional interpreters undergo extensive training to refine their skills, and they must adhere to mandatory requirements that vary by client, such as background checks, drug tests and even immunization for those within the healthcare industry. Additionally, interpreters must follow a strict code of ethics and are expected to be well-versed—if not experts—in the specific fields for which they are working.
Take, for instance, legal interpreters. The best legal interpreters are fluent in the language of the client, for sure, but they also must have an extensive understanding of legal terminology, vocabulary, processes and practices. They must be as attuned to courtroom protocol and decorum as they are to the nuances of the language itself. They are also courtroom interpreter imagerequired to provide simultaneous interpreting, a specialized skill that involves listening to one language while precisely restructuring it into another language at the same time.
Medical interpreters require the same level of skill and accuracy. Even the simplest of medical discussions between doctors and patients can be complex and delicate conversations. Throw in a more complicated scenario, such as presenting various options a patient may have to consider and the possible repercussions for each of those decisions, and the vital role of the interpreter becomes ever clearer. Also, the healthcare industry continues to undergo rapid changes, both from within the medical field itself as well as from a regulatory aspect. The most qualified medical interpreters are those whose training and experience gives them a well-rounded feel for the industry as a whole.
Today’s interpreters must also be able to work within a new technological framework. In-person, on-site interpreting used to be standard practice, either for large group settings or one-on-one. But telephonic and video remote interpreting (VRI) are now more commonplace, given the ease, convenience and cost savings they offer. In addition, on-line chat rooms, text messaging and live captioning tools are changing the way individuals and organizations can communicate. As a result, interpreting agencies must be able to accommodate a variety of technical tools to make interpreters available anyplace, anytime.
We’ve seen an increasing number of stories where organizations rely on in-house interpreting imageemployees to assist with any interpreting needs that come up. That could mean a bi-lingual worker in the accounting department gets called over to the sales office every so often to help relay information from a customer who doesn’t speak English. That may work in some cases, but the level of concern should rise in direct proportion to the seriousness of the situation. An accounting clerk interpreting a crime victim’s statement to a police officer is fraught with potential legal implications down the road, yet we know such practices take place.
The bottom line is that today’s interpreters must be better trained and uniquely skilled for key assignments. The need for accuracy is more critical and the consequences of failure are more acute. For many professions—legal, healthcare, law enforcement, insurance, education and more—the personal and financial stakes are too high to rely on untrained or unskilled interpreters.
If you’re looking for high quality interpreting services with trained and experienced linguists, give us a call. We are happy to assist.