SSW Blog

New Wave of Video Interpreters

Posted on | January 23, 2009 | No Comments

As I was invited to hear about the new videophone, Z  model 150, I had realized that the new model will be perfect for Deaf people who may need interpreters for less than 2 hours or on short notice. The Z model 150 includes phone, speaker and TV screen plus ethernet cable. (See the Z model 150 description). Even it would provide video conference that can hold up to four videos on one TV screen.

The cost for using video interpreters via Z model 150 as offered by CSDVRS will be approximately $2.00 to $3.00 per minute. For example, I may like to use video interpreter at least 15 minutes and would pay $45.00.  I believe this price is very fairly bargain.

If you want to hire live interpreter you have to pay at least two hours plus gas mileage reimbursement. It would be foolish to hire one for less than two hours but it would be nice to have Z model 150 instead.

It will be new wave of video interpreters. Some hospitals had installed the video remote interpreting system as though they have signed some kind of agreement with Video Remote Interpreting service such as Deaf-Talk .

Deaf Americans are using video relay services often after receiving videophone equipments such Sorenson VP 200, Ojo 900, or Dlink VP at home, office and work place, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and especially Federal Communications Commission (FCC) . However, the outcome may be imperfect and I believe it may take long way to go. Some reasons are as follows:

  • There is lack of data about how many Deaf Americans have videophones at home, work or office. Based on several reliable sources I discovered at least 60% of Connecticut Deaf people who do not afford high speed Internet may not use videophones.  It is hard to make a ballpark estimate but in my opinion there may be around at least 10% of Deaf population who have videophones in the US.
  • In federal buildings it is very difficult to install videophones due to the complex of firewalls. Therefore, there may be none available around in every state but rarely.  Maybe Z model 150 will be suitable for the federal need.
  • There is gray area about how to use video remote interpreters via videophones at home, office or work. Suppose some Deaf people may have to use VP nearby whenever the need for interpreter arises. No matter, any VRS agent may be unwary of this ongoing situation.
  • There are still ongoing problems such as interoperability, ten digit numbers except direct vp number with specific VP equipment, not “crosswise” different VP equipments, and other new emerging VP devices like Vpad, Z model 340, or MVP.
  • There is lack of monitoring and overseeing the qualifications of video agents and interpreters in some call centers.  For example, in Connecticut, the state law mandates that interpreters must register in order to prove they are eligible with the Registry of Interpreters certification while in other states there is no law to mandate the certification of interpreters.

During the presidential inauguration, I had to compliment the Birnbaum Interpreting Service for being pioneer to provide video streaming interpreter on the Internet in conjunction with CNN news live online video.  As I was able to watch live ASL intepreter in laptop I was thrilled to understand President Ohama with his speech.  It was beautiful to watch ASL in his words rather than struggling to read the closed captioning that run laggardly and awkwardly.

I believe that there is definitely new wave of video interpreters but of course there is the need for improvement and innovation.