Dealing with poor sound quality while interpreting over the phone
Thread poster: Sara Senft

Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:30
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 7, 2009

I've interpreted over the phone several times. Earlier today, I was called to do so and the sound quality could have been better. After about 20 minutes of interpreting (and having trouble hearing everyone clearly), I told the English-only speaker that I was having a hard time hearing everyone clearly and that this would interfere with my ability to interpret successfully.

In the end, they got another interpreter.

I know I did the right thing. Being able to interpret effectively came before the amount of money I would earn from the call. That said, are there other things I can do if there is poor sound quality on any end?


 

PRAKAASH  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 00:00
Member (2007)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Few other things Nov 7, 2009

Hi Sara,

You have done the right thing I feel so by letting them know the truth of poor audio quality. However,

1. using an earphone/headphone (which you have done, I feel so); or
2. asking for any sort of literature that speaker(s) and audience(s) might have been using,

might have been few options, you could have tried to get help while doing interpretation, I feel so. Rest, you are more experienced in this field!

Take Care!
Regards,
PS

Sara Senft wrote:

I've interpreted over the phone several times. Earlier today, I was called to do so and the sound quality could have been better. After about 20 minutes of interpreting (and having trouble hearing everyone clearly), I told the English-only speaker that I was having a hard time hearing everyone clearly and that this would interfere with my ability to interpret successfully.

In the end, they got another interpreter.

I know I did the right thing. Being able to interpret effectively came before the amount of money I would earn from the call. That said, are there other things I can do if there is poor sound quality on any end?


 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
You were right Nov 9, 2009

If you were not understanding it because of poor sound quality, then you were right to speak up immediately. That is a mark of professionalism. If they wish to hire someone else who is afraid to complain and who will do an inferior job, then let them do so.

Not having the world's best hearing, sound quality has always been a problem for me as well. What I try to do is avoid such situations such as phone interpreting, because sound quality on the phone can often be poor. When working conferences, I insist on having a good sound feed or the mobility and permission to locate myself wherever I need to be to hear. That rules out court work, because the judge is in charge of the courtroom and may not take care of my needs at all.

One situation in which I found a miraculous turnaround was in phone interpreting for the court. If I said I was having any trouble with sound, I would get action! But still, I avoid that as well, because I would rather leave it to those whose hearing is better than mine.

In any case, you did the right thing.


 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 14:30
Romanian to English
+ ...
Henry is right Nov 22, 2009

Just like Henry, I cannot brag about my hearing. I've been doing OPIs quite often (2-3/week) and if I am not able to hear what is said, I ask the participants to speak up louder, get closer to the mike, etc. because in my pair they do not have the luxury of finding another interpreter right away. As an assigned interpreter, you should try everything that is in your power to provide a quality interpretation and not give up as soon as you encounter some difficulty.
As Henry mentioned it before, judges are more than willing to accommodate the interpreter.

[Edited at 2009-11-22 06:12 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-11-22 06:13 GMT]


 


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