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In 2020, a previously underused technology, Remote simultaneous interpretation (RSI), became the primary method of delivering simultaneous interpretation at meetings and events. With 2021 now underway, markets worldwide are beginning the steps to recovery. However, it remains unclear whether RSI will continue to replace on-site interpretation at meetings and events.
Jeremy Ducklin, Managing Director of Congress Rental, thinks that most interpretation will be in the form of RSI, at least for this year:
"Last year, we were of course doing significantly more RSI projects than we had in the past, but we've confirmed even more for 2021, so I think the majority of interpretation projects will still be remote this year."
"With all the uncertainty and issues surrounding international travel, everyone's still hesitant about holding live meetings and events."
In 2020, over 90% of Congress Rental's interpretation projects were delivered through RSI
Even when international events eventually return, there is no guarantee that on-site interpretation will. Historically, organisers have dismissed RSI as an unreliable alternative to on-site interpretation. Now that they've seen it in action, it's likely that doubts about RSI's reliability have lessened. With the cost-savings on interpreter travel and accommodation, it's clear that most organisations will seriously consider RSI for future events moving forward.
Does that mean working from home is the 'new normal' for interpreters? Not exactly. Sebastian Ennis, Head of Production at Congress Rental, thinks that interpretation hubs are going to be the way forward:
"We've done quite a few projects using interpretation hubs this year, and the feedback we get from both interpreters and our clients is better than when interpreters are working from home."
Interpreter hubs reduce risks for event organisers and provide a more professional environment for interpreters.
"Many Interpreters have said they prefer working in a professional environment, not to mention the benefits of being in the same space as their partner. Clients like the added level of reliability and the higher quality that they get from professional equipment."
"It's taking the best of both remote simultaneous interpretation and on-site interpretation to deliver a high-quality end result."
Interpreters can also expect a small range of events and meetings to return to on-site interpretation. Jeremy predicts that mission-critical government meetings will be one of them:
"Government meetings have to be done live with on-site interpreters. You have the main meetings that people see on the news, but the smaller secondary meetings that people don't see are just as important. These meetings are difficult to replicate through online platforms. You don't get the same level of flexibility."
Although it's quite challenging to predict the exact proportion of projects which will return to on-site interpretation, it's safe to say that Interpreters will have to get comfortable with RSI, as it's here to stay.