For the first time this year, the Swarthmore College commencement ceremony will be interpreted into Spanish. For several years the ceremony has been translated into American Sign Language, but the college recently purchased the equipment necessary to make verbal simultaneous interpreting possible.

This year parents and other family members of graduating students will have the option of requesting a translating device. The devices are small and hand-held, with headphones. The listener puts on the headphones and then chooses a channel that will correspond to an audio feed in a certain language.

This year the translation will only be in Spanish. But the devices do have multiple channels, so in the future the ceremony could be simultaneously translated into more than one language. The user would simply set the device to the channel with their language of choice.

The Spanish interpretation will be done by Spanish Professor Aurora Camacho de Schmidt. She explained the process of interpreting, saying that the interpreter receives through headphones a very clear feed of the speaker’s words and then translates it, speaking into a microphone which will broadcast to the hand-held devices.

She said that it is much easier to translate a person reading a prepared speech than someone speaking freely, as they speak more slowly, but she still described the process as exhausting and is looking for an alternate interpreter to work for part of the graduation ceremony. Read more.

See: The Swarthmore Daily Gazette