Interpreters in times of COVID

Interpreters in times of COVID

The COVID crisis has taken a particularly rough toll on people who make a living from large-scale events. That includes musicians, stage actors, and everyone in the convention and conference industry. Aside from manufacturers, event planner, and speakers, the last group also consists of interpreters. Keep reading to find out more about the situation of interpreters during the current crisis!


The demand for interpreters has sunk dramatically due to the pandemic. That’s no surprise given the fact that the majority of all conventions and conferences have either been cancelled or postponed until some later, undetermined date in the future.


Creative formats to the rescue

However, some events are still possible, albeit to a limited degree. Ramona, our interpreting coordinator, says “there are definitely functional concepts for events which are completely or partially virtual”. She says that the technology is there and necessary partners, such as sound technicians, are more than willing to offer such services.

Some of the events using creative formats have interpreters working remotely in sanitized conditions. “One option is to transfer the location to recording studios”, explains Ramona. “There, the interpreters each sit in their own booth which is well ventilated.” Thanks to the fact that the interpreters are in separate booths, social distancing is easy to maintain.

In this case, the interpreters see both the person whose speech they are interpreting as well as the presentation on a screen. This may be either a live feed or a pre-recording. The audience takes part the way most of us take part in meeting these days: They use video streaming software to follow along in real time.

Other formats are hybrid models. The events take place in typical convention locations, but there is no live audience. This can be done thanks to the size of the halls and centers used. “This means all of the speakers, interpreters, audio engineers, and the handful of other people necessary for organization are on-site and can hold the event while wearing masks and social distancing”, says Ramona.

This type of format also has virtual audience members. The advantage here, though, is that the convention “feel” remains intact in some respects, since at least the location is somewhat “normal”.


Nothing but COVID?

The past year was dominated by the pandemic. Just about every news broadcast began with a segment about infection rates and mitigation strategies. As such, it would not be surprising if what little work interpreters do receive was related to the coronavirus.

However, Ramona says that that was not at all the case. “Up until now, the subjects have had nothing to do with the coronavirus”, she says. “The events were about essentially the same things as before the pandemic. But that has actually been a nice break from the ever-present topic of the virus”, she adds.


Of course, we are all more than ready for things to get back to normal. Vaccinations have begun in the EU and the road out of the crisis is starting to feel more tangible. But until then, we will have to stay creative and open for alternative ideas. Be they on location or remote events, GlobalSprachTeam remains a strong partner for your event, both during and after the pandemic!

(O.M., 2021)


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