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You have been assigned an interpreter

Zoom class with Maha El-Metwally


The most popular tool for remote meetings among many companies at the moment, simply because it was known long before the pandemic, is Zoom. Although it does not offer a console for handover, unlike interpretation platforms such as Kudo, Voiceboxer or Interprefy, it is immensely popular with clients because of its low cost and the familiarity already mentioned.

Since Zoom also does not offer a function for listening to each other, it was necessary to log in at the seminar with two end devices and two different Zoom accounts each. One terminal is then used to listen to the partner in the virtual booth, the other is used to participate in the seminar and to interpret. The microphone of this second terminal must always be muted. This technique is the only way to work in a conference with more than two languages in which relays are taken and where one way is needed to listen to the booth partner. 

After a short survey of who has already interpreted via Zoom and what their expectations of the seminar were, we got started quickly. Contrary to the widespread assumption that all interpreters must have a subscription in order to interpret via Zoom, it is sufficient if only the host of the meeting has one. For all participants and interpreters, a simple free account is sufficient. The interpretation can then be listened to on all types of devices, including smartphones and tablets. Zoom can be used to organise meetings for up to 100 participants.

What are the prerequisites for working really well with Zoom?

First of all: update before each use. Zoom currently updates every few days, and if you are not working with the current version, some functions may not be visible or usable. To be able to use Relay and listen to the booth partner, or to the interpretation at all, a second terminal is needed. The connection with the booth partner can also be maintained via a WhatsApp call, for example, to coordinate the handover.

On one can find out about the different plans and prices if interested in subscribing. According to seminar instructor Maha El-Metwally, a Pro account is purchased for €14 per month, plus the Zoom webinar licence for €37/month. This results in a cost of €51/month, the amount can be paid monthly or annually.

Interpreting with Zoom from an interpreter's point of view

Maha then introduced us to how an interpreting assignment via Zoom works from the interpreter's point of view. The interpreter receives a message from the meeting host that (still) incorrectly reads "You have been assigned an interpreter". A button appears with the two languages from and into which work is being done. The target language is highlighted in white in each case. If the interpreter uses two terminals, she can check in the interface she uses as a listener whether the assignment of the status ‘interpreter’ has worked and whether she has been assigned the correct language combination.

Practical tips for RSI via Zoom

Before we moved on to a practical exercise, the seminar instructor gave us some useful tips for everyday work. When working together across different time zones, clock synchronisation via can be helpful. Maha also advised us to reboot our PCs before using RSI. There is a possibility that programmes access the sound card without the user's knowledge, which can then interfere with the RSI interpretation. There is also a simple way to test whether the interpretation is being recorded: if, when clicking on the record button at the bottom of the screen, a message appears saying that the host needs to be authorised for this, no recording is taking place. For the hearing-impaired, Zoom now offers the option of adding live subtitles. What I took away from the live exercise is that I definitely prefer a handover where I can see my colleague in the booth than a blind HO. I can then see whether my colleague has taken over the microphone, whether she is interpreting or not, a visual cue can be used for the changeover, etc. However, I don't want to rule out that this view will change with more remote experience.

Maha shared with us that mistakes can happen with Zoom despite a lot of experience. When in doubt, it can also simply be helpful to log out of the meeting once and then log back in.

Conclusion: the seminar was not only instructive, but also great fun. Those who would like to expand and deepen their knowledge of RSI via Zoom in practical exercises can find out about practical exercise sessions with the speaker Maha El-Metwally here:

Eloquens wishes you lots of fun and beautiful assignments! :)


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