Simultaneous Interpreting Delivery Platforms (SIDPs) became commonplace during the pandemic. But complaints, health concerns and even strikes among conference interpreters at some of the world’s top international institutions soon made the news. The new standard seeks to ensure that simultaneous interpreters can perform their jobs under reasonable and safe working conditions, so that the listeners can benefit as intended. But it does so in a unique, clear, and fresh way: the standard is not just about technology provided by platforms; it also addresses the responsibilities of various stakeholders and their interdependency, requiring them to work together to achieve compliance.
The standard committee identified three critical stakeholders:
- Speakers and signers
- Platform providers
All three stakeholders must follow the requirements to achieve compliance. For example, if a speaker does not use a proper microphone and creates poor sound, the platform provider cannot reproduce quality sound to the interpreter, compromising both the interpreter’s ability to work and the quality for the listener. This is the case even if the interpreter and the platform provider are otherwise compliant. The new standard gives interpreters, language service providers, platform providers, and international institutions the necessary leverage to require that speakers and signers work with proper equipment – addressing one of the biggest complaints in the industry.
The standard addresses interface features and controls for interpreters across platforms, mimicking the consistency of standards for on-site hardware that professional conference interpreters are accustomed to. A live microphone in the broadcast world is indicated by the color red; yet many platforms use other colors. Such interface standards will provide consistency for interpreters working with different platforms.
While there has been a surge in the return to on-site events in recent months, remote interpreting platforms have a solid place in the market, with new players emerging as technology advances. They will continue to be needed for hybrid solutions as well as for new remote-only events, such as global town halls, that cannot be done on-site for practical reasons. Even fully on-site events need backup options due to the continued expected impact of global health or climate incidents.