One in five of our neighbors here in the United States speak a language other than English at home. That’s more than 61 million people – 25 million of whom say they speak English less than well. Another 28 million Americans are deaf or hard of hearing.
The influence of these diverse audiences is enormous and growing. They are citizens, patients, and consumers. Meeting them in their preferred language builds loyalty, achieves compliance, and increases staff productivity while reducing expenses. The opportunities are clear, but the challenge is that – with hundreds of languages spoken in America today – it is very difficult for any organization to meet this demand.
Video remote interpreting (VRI) is an on-demand platform that provides communication to limited English proficient, deaf, or hard-of-hearing individuals by connecting to a professional interpreter in an offsite location. This is done via camera and microphone on a tablet, smart phone, or desktop, using an Internet or cellular connection. VRI reduces the risk of misunderstanding by capturing body language and facial expressions to read visual cues.
Before implementing VRI, your organization should discuss the needs of your audience and how video will fit into your language access plan. Take the time to have this discussion with your front-line staff and any other key stakeholders. Here are a few questions to prompt discussion:
- Would access to visual cues and emotional inflection improve communication with your Limited English Proficient audience?
- Do you serve a significant population of people who are deaf or hard of hearing?
- Do you offer products or services that are complex or need to be explained in detail?
- Do your products or services require users to fill out forms that may require assistance from an interpreter?
- Do you currently rely on non-professional interpreters (such as friends or relatives) when a need arises?
- Does front-line staff currently have difficulty answering questions or resolving issues with customers, clients, or patients who are Limited English Proficient, deaf, or hard of hearing?
- Have you experienced an increase in customer, client, or patient complaints from these communities?
- Are there language-access regulations with which your organization needs to comply?
- If your organization currently uses onsite interpreters who need to be scheduled in advance, would it be helpful to also have a solution for shorter, more urgent engagements?
- Does your organization operate from multiple locations, which can make distribution of language-access resources a challenge?
- Are you missing sales opportunities because of language barriers or a lack of language support?
- Do language barriers create bottlenecks in your ability to serve other clients?
Approaching video remote interpreting as an informed buyer will ensure that you implement the right solution. It also prepares you to use your new technology to its fullest capacity.
To learn more, please download our new guide, “Empowering Your Organization with Video Remote Interpreting: How to Improve Communication with Limited English Proficient and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Audiences.”