AIIC: ISO, o que é isso?

Activity organized by AIIC Brazil

Dictated by:

  • Victoria Massa-Bulit, Coordinator of AIIC ISO Standards Project, AIIC representative before ISO
  • Verónica Pérez Guarnieri, Convener of ISO TC 37/SC5 / WG2 on Interpreting, IRAM expert before ISO
  • Livia Cais, AIIC Brasil ISO project coordinator

Date and time: Saturday, July 4 at 10 (Brasilia time)

Anticipated duration: 2 hours


Zoom waiting room opens 15′ before

The steep learning curve of another mode of interpretation

As we described in the previous entry on the virtualization of events, the preventative and mandatory confinement enforced to contain the pandemic unleashed by COVID-19 has forced conference interpreters to rethink their working methods.

Some of us were already providing remote simultaneous or consecutive interpretation services, in line with AIIC Guidelines for Remote Interpretation (Version 1.0), AIIC Task Force Recommendations on Remote Interpretation and ISO/PAS 24019:2020 Simultaneous interpreting delivery platforms — Requirements and recommendations.

In terms of my experience, since the beginning of 2019, I have provided remote interpretation services from a controlled environment with the following characteristics:

  • Dedicated cable Internet connection.  This is very important since the Wi-Fi connection is more unstable.
  • Private room with adequate soundproofing.
  • Interpretation interfaces according to ISO 20109:2016 Annex B.1.
  • Headphones connected by USB to the computer.
  • Three computers with a state-of-the-art processor and enough memory to run the relevant software application.
  • Data protection software installed on the computers.
  • Auxiliary wall-mounted display.
  • Power bank for possible power cuts.
  • Technical staff assistance on site.

Apart from the list above, the most important aspect to ensure the success of the assignment has been that the interpreters be located in the same room, regardless of the mode of interpretation (simultaneous or consecutive). In either case, the task was carried out in accordance with IRAM standard 13612 “Requirements and recommendations for the provision of language interpretation services” (2018).

The scenario described in the preceding paragraphs was not ideal since a booth and traditional consoles were preferable. However, if viewed with a benevolent eye, it was not far from the ideal scenario.

Interpreting in times of the lockdown

The enforcement of social distancing protocols and the impossibility of travelling have forced us to reconvert quickly.  Consequently, the hub had to migrate to a home studio with all that implies.

Thinking of those interpreters who have to work in these circumstances, here are some recommendations I have applied in my case, both for remote interpretation and for online training of conference and court interpreters:

  1. Space

It is essential to properly set up your workspace. For that reason, it is convenient to have a room in the house with the proper sound insulation, with the line and cell phone in silent mode and with adequate ventilation and lighting. There are some very useful tips which I learned the hard way.  For example, to prevent the lighting from reflecting on your computer screen, it is better to face the window with natural light or place a lamp behind the computer.  It is important to preserve your professional image by eliminating all the clutter behind your seat.

  1. Connectivity

Good connectivity is of the essence, so it is advisable to have a dedicated Internet line with at least 100 MB (2 Mbps downstream, 1.5 Mbps upstream; optimal 5 Mbps downstream, 2.5 Mbps upstream). The ideal situation is to have two Internet services to avoid any contingency: a primary wired Internet connection (through a LAN/Ethernet cable to the router) and a secondary connection separate from the primary connection. This can be wired or wireless depending on your possibilities.

Although not always possible, it is important to limit the use of Internet connections while working. The simultaneous use by other family members may hinder or slow down our connection and, consequently, may be detrimental to our work.

  1. Basic technological equipment

At a minimum, a desktop or laptop computer is required. Although not always possible, an additional desktop monitor is recommended. That is why many professionals use a desktop and notebook computer to supply this second monitor, in addition to using it as a 4G-connected auxiliary device.

To avoid sound problems, such as feedback, reverberation or any kind of distraction, it is recommended to use a USB headset with surrounding sound cancellation to ensure true isolation from the environment when working.

Ideally, you should work with a headset with a built-in microphone and manually mute the computer or camera microphone. Computer speakers or microphones should not be used because the sound quality is often poor and, in many cases, ambient noise is picked up, which can be counterproductive to our professional image.

We know that we are living in difficult times and that it is not always pleasant to adapt by using home resources to carry out a professional task that, in itself, entails great pressure. For this reason, I left the most important recommendation to the end: we must keep a positive attitude and think of this critical situation as a challenge, thus conveying the appropriate poise that characterizes the image of a true professional, one who takes on the job with the same responsibility as always, even if, for exceptional reasons, they carry it out in their own living rooms.

Useful links

AIIC Covid-19 Distance Interpreting Recommendations for Institutions and DI Hubs

AIIC best practices for interpreters during the Covid-19 crisis

Speakers, mind your microphone manners for client education

The rise of virtual events

Virtual events

By now, we already know how hard the coronavirus pandemic has hit the events industry.  And interpreters have suffered collateral damage. The main message given by governments around the world is that we need to flatten the curve and postpone the peak as much as possible.  And this means social distancing. Therefore, live meetings and gatherings are not an option.

In this  vein, some planners have been quick to do what the industry now calls “pivot to virtual.”  But what does it entail? Does this mean that we can take an event and just run it virtually? Well, no, that is not the case. There are many adjustments to be made, and interpretation is not a minor one. Let us first look at some characteristics of virtual events:

  • Although live events are technology-consuming, the planning and production process of virtual events requires a high level of technology confidence, of another type, which needs to be mastered quickly. What to use? There are many options available, but most of them have been overwhelmed by the surge in demand, presenting security and stability issues. These are only a few among the many available options: Zoom, Webex, Pathable Virtual Events, Eventtia, Meeting PlayVirtual Hublio, Glisser, Microsoft Teams for Business, etc.
  • Finding sponsorship opportunities for virtual events may prove to be more difficult in terms of methods to monetize the events and the willingness of sponsors to do it. It is really worthwhile to sponsor an event in which people will not have the chance to meet face to face and influence each other? If the answer is yes, how can it be done?
  • Engaging the audience is another challenge. Some creative examples to keep your audience attention are real-time illustrations during sessions, live games, and competitions, virtual entertainment, and more.
  • Insurance: virtual events is unchartered territory for insurance companies. Live events have been sophisticated enough, and they will also have to change gears and adapt quickly if they don’t want to see one of their sources of income closed for some time.
  • And interpretation (which deserves a separate blog) also has to pivot to virtual, with everything which it entails.  Before we meet again to talk about different distance interpreting options, it suffices to note that AIIC urges colleagues to insist on compliance with the standards for such interpreting scenarios as set out in AIIC’s guidelines on distance interpreting, as well as with ISO 20108 on ‘Simultaneous interpreting- Quality and transmission of sound and video input’ and ISO/PAS 24019:2020 Simultaneous interpreting delivery platforms — Requirements and recommendations. Ensuring such compliance will benefit our clients, the participants and ourselves, the interpreters.

In conclusion

Let us make the most of what is left of this year and capitalise on virtual events, which will be postponed or virtualised in the most part, not cancelled. And, at the same time, let us strive to be up to date because the age of virtual events is only beginning, and as they continue to take place, there will be more innovation.

Introducing the #GoSlowInterpreter Movement

Go Slow Interpreter

This is a new series of tips and recommendations for interpreters, but from a different angle, an often-neglected one.  I will not say the word, lest some of you are panic-stricken and stop reading immediately. Just guess…

I decided to call this series the #GoSlowIntepreter movement.  My goal is to share some of the insight and reflections I have drawn from my experience as a conference and consultant interpreter, in the hope of making a contribution to improving the quality of our working life.

First, some clarification: #GoSlow doesn’t mean doing or being less, indulging in laziness, or doing everything more slowly.  Nothing is further from the truth.  Living slowly means being more present in the thousand things you do every day, being more aware that this second is all we have, that the past is gone and the future will never come because, when it does, it will be the present again.

Now, how does this relate to interpreting?

I had conceived the first post of this series as ideas to implement in the #GoSlowIntepreter booth, but since the #coronavirus is creating headlines around the world, I felt I could offer emergency tips . There is now a generalized feeling of unsafety and we are before a real threat to humanity.  The event industry has been severely hit. But let us put things in context.  Humanity has gone through many epidemics and pandemics before and, ultimately, everything resolves; of course, there will always be collateral damage.  That, we cannot avoid. While the scientific world is working against the clock to contain the virus, what can we do?

What does all this mean to us in the context of this #GoSlowIntepreter movement?

When you get your next cancellation, do not panic. Do not stress out, do not become a susceptible host to the virus. Breathe in, breathe out! It has been proven that inhaling and exhaling to the count of four and exhaling to the count of six will slow your heartbeat and trigger positive thinking; visualize positive scenes, like yourself in the booth; focus on healthy emotions, not panic. And think also of taking up yoga or intensifying your yoga practice; it is a time to share and support each other more, giving each other attention and appreciation. And, believe me, resorting to these techniques is necessary.  It is extremely difficult for human beings to think positively in the middle of a crisis.  The merit belongs to those who can be absolutely certain of something, even if it hasn’t happened yet.

The next step is to use adversity to reflect on where you would like to be in four moths time, for example. Can you use this time to hone down on your interpreting skills?  Enhancing one of your C languages? Designing that professional website you never have the time to do?

Once you have decided how to use this time of adversity, you have to take action.  This is the most difficult step.  Perhaps, the next paragraph will help you see why you have to remain active.

Without breaking any principle of confidentiality, I can tell you something the CEO of a multinational said during a press conference.  As interpreters, we tend not to remember many things unless what we hear is significant to us.  And this certainly was to me. When asked about the crisis in Argentina, he shrugged and said:  “Crisis?  I have worked for this company for more than 20 years.  Can you imagine how many crises I have witnessed?  If there is one recommendation I can give you, it is:  The crisis will come to an end and, when it does, you will have to be prepared.  The ones who will succeed at that time are those who take advantage of the bust cycle!.

In conclusion, I come from a country where crises are part of our DNA. And I believe this helps, since you become more resilient and are absolutely certain that “this too shall pass”. And, when it does, you will be prepared to rise to the next level in your career.  It has worked for me, why wouldn’t it work for you?  Certain that we will be in contact again soon on a more positive note, I wish you all well.  And remember, here and now is all we have.