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Necessity is the Mother of Video Interpreting Innovation
Posted by Nataly Kelly on February 13, 2009  in the following blogs: Interpreting, Business Globalization, Best Practices
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The global lack of qualified interpreters appears to grow with each passing day. A recent report from Voice of America discussed the unmet need for court interpreters in the United States and the difficulty in finding adequate resources for languages of limited demand, such as Burmese.  Stories like these appear on a near-daily basis:
  • In Ohio, a language barrier recently prevented a murder investigation from moving forward.

  • Courts in Iowa also struggle to find sufficient interpreting resources in the local population.

  • Texas is not faring much better, with only 500 licensed court interpreters to serve a state that has 7.2 million people who speak a language other than English at home.

  • States like Mississippi are watching the demand for interpreting services grow in court, medical, and police settings.

  • In New Jersey, when an interpreter could not be found, a deaf victim gave testimony via text message, resulting in a mistrial.
The United States is not alone in its consistent and widespread need for interpreting services:
  • Japan recently decried the lack of medical interpreters for its growing population of international residents.

  • Immigrant populations in Korea have led to an unmet demand for interpreting services.

  • Multilingual Tanzania now is embarking on a quest to provide interpreters for non-Kiswahili legislators.

  • Some EU member states, including Greece, have recently been outed for failing to provide interpreters for asylum seekers.

  • Australia continues to struggle to find enough interpreters for both aboriginal languages and native tongues of African refugees.
Along with the growing demand comes a boom in the supply of technological solutions. Video interpreting services have long been used for sign languages, and spending on video relay services (VRS) in the United States along has already topped US$1 billion. On the spoken language side, adoption of video interpreting for mainstream needs has been somewhat slow.

However, several initiatives are rapidly changing this reality. Paras and Associates is making leaps and bounds by setting up networks to enable public hospitals to share their interpreting resources. This week, we stopped by Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, a member of the Health Care Interpreter Network (HCIN), to see video interpreting in action. Watch the video clip below to see footage from our visit, and check back soon for a view of our recent visit to a courtroom video interpreting implementation.


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Keywords: Foreign media analysis, Interpreting, Interpreting technologies, On-site interpreting, Video interpreting

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