Janet Reinhold’s field report on the search for a provider and the application of the interpreting function in virtual conferences
In its video conferencing application, common Microsoft Teams offers subtitles as an immediate translation of the spoken word. We did, however, need a simultaeneous translation by one or two persons.
An internet research indicated that apparently only ZOOM and Kudo offered what I was looking for.
Since our law firm is a ZOOM customer, I initially contacted our ZOOM support. At the time we had the Pro-package with one license. However, in order to book the interpreting function, one would have to upgrade to the Business package featuring at least 10 licenses. For more information on the interpreting function, please refer to the ZOOM website and a marketing video (or the user videos on YouTube).
Consequently I checked out Kudo, which was very comfortable. On the one hand one of their representatives contacted me promptly; on the other hand they regularly offer live demos.
Kudo is a platform that offers both technology (cloud-based) and linguistic expertise for virtual events. I was impressed by the fact that Kudo focuses particularly on the requirements of the conference organizers and the interpreters. In addition to the standard options such as screen share and chat, the platform offers functionalities for polls, document downloads and a request list directly on the participant’s screen.
Looking at the tool for interpreters, you can tell that interpreters helped to develop it. They are able to switch between the channels and the “main room” and take turns using a countdown. Moreover, Kudo offers interpreters free training and a free one-year license so they have access to a large pool of interpreters.
Kudo offers comprehensive one-stop conferencing support which I would have loved to use. Unfortunately, the pricing is not commensurate with our „virtual volume“.
As an alternative to Kudo’s complete package you could also contact one of their many partners. For Germany this is Brähler, with whom we had worked already several times when organizing events. Unfortunately, Brähler’s offer was not suitable for this particular event.
Therefore, we held our court hearing via ZOOM.
Holding the hearing using the interpreter function
Following an upgrade to the Business package, I was able to select the interpreter function when setting up the meeting. When starting the meeting the „Interpretation“ option is displayed in the ZOOM-window.
Upon dialing in, the interpreters are listed along with the other participants. You will have to mark them as „interpreters“. That way their audio tracks are forwarded to two additional channels. We had hired two ladies who were supposed to interpret a witness’ testimony from Turkish into English and vice versa.
As soon as it is time for the interpreters, one has to click on “Interpretation”. Now the participants are able to select a second channel for „Turkish“ and a channel for “English” in addition to the “main room”. Another option is to mute the main room with the original language“; otherwise the participants will hear that room with a reduced volume.
Unfortunately, the interpreters are separated from each other as soon as “Interpretation” is initiated. Due to the separate audio tracks they are not able to listen to each other or communicate with one another. There is no “count-down”option to signal that one of them wants to take a break and that the other interpreter should take over. Here the ZOOM support points to the chat function. However, the interpreters are not able to chat or write a Whatsapp while they are interpreting simultaneously.
Actually, we would have needed only one channel for our hearing, because only one interpreter translated into another language at a time. It is, however, not possible to assign two persons to one channel.
As a work-around I plan on having the interpreters dial in with two accounts (if this is possible) next time. That way, they will be able to follow the hearing on one device (and listen to what the other interpreter is saying) and to use the other device to speak into the interpreter channel.
Fortunately, the hearing went well and everybody was understanding about the minor hiccups. After all, it was the first time for all of us using the “Interpreter” function. I posted my feedback on the ZOOM website to the support.
In any case, it was a bit of an adventure and very exciting.
Janet Reinhold, Office Manager