What is video remote interpreting?

Date Updated

Video remote interpreting (VRI) is a form of sign language interpreting that allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to communicate with a hearing person at the same site via videoconferencing instead of live, on-site interpreting. VRI is especially useful when (1) there is a lack of available qualified interpreters, such as at a rural location; and (2) when an interpreter is needed immediately and there is no available interpreter on-site.

VRI works by using videoconferencing equipment at both locations. The interpreter, who is typically at a call center, uses a headset to hear what the hearing person says. As the hearing person speaks, the interpreter signs everything said to a web camera. When the person who is deaf replies via their web camera, the interpreter sees and voices the interpretation. The person who is deaf and the person who is hearing can talk back and forth, just as if the interpreter was in the same room.

VRI is provided on a fee-for-service basis by several interpreting agencies; costs may vary based on whether an interpreter is needed immediately or is scheduled ahead of time.

More information on VRI can be provided by a local sign language interpreting agency, which can be found by searching for "video remote interpreting" on the web.

VRI should not be confused with Video Relay Service (VRS), where a telephone conversation between two people at different locations is interpreted. For more information on relay services consult the DO-IT Knowledge Base article What are Telecommunications Relay Services?