ESIT Research Project on Remote Simultaneous Interpreting
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Roughly a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, this survey aimed at gathering information about how conference interpreters work in remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI) with regard to market developments, working conditions, technical setup, and team work. The survey also collected the respondents' views on the pros and cons of RSI.
ESIT started this research project being fully aware of the tremendous impact of the pandemic on the interpreting community. This is confirmed by the survey: 68% of respondents have worked fewer days and 46% have fewer clients. While remote interpreting allowed interpreters to keep working during the crisis, for the large majority of respondents (78%) it also meant sailing through uncharted waters.
When it comes to working conditions, it is reassuring to read that recommendations in terms of working hours are mostly followed: shorter sessions for 75% of respondents and shifts of 20 minutes or less for 62% of respondents. However, some technical conditions seem to go against recommendations: only 7% of respondents report that external microphones are always used by active participants. Similarly, 75% of respondents sometimes or always work from home, while only 26% prefer working from home.
Teamwork seems to matter in RSI: 77% of respondents sometimes or always help their booth-mate. As most of the time they are not in the same booth nor working with connected consoles, 74% of respondents resort to “makeshift” solutions to listen to their colleague (through another device or platform or by joining the conference as participants).
Respondents also shared their view on RSI. 50% of them think that they perform worse and 67% think that working conditions are worse, compared to on-site interpreting. Moreover, 83% consider that RSI is more difficult. Despite increased difficulty and worse conditions and performance, 75% of respondents feel that users’ expectation are the same of higher. Finally, 77% of respondents state that fees for RSI are similar or lower than for on-site interpreting.