Video Remote Interpreting vs. On Site: When to Use

Mar 25, 2020


Did you know that there are over 57,000 interpreters and translators in the US as of 2018? Interpreter technologies have developed significantly in the last decade. Yet, face-to-face interpretation is still the gold standard of translation.

This is especially true in the fields of legal and medical interpretation. Correctly communicating between the source language and target language can be a life or death matter.

Video remote interpreting combines live interpretation and HD video technology. By means of this technology, a person can reach an interpreter at any time in almost any place.

Could this technology increase production or meet a crucial need in your business? Learn more below.

What Is Video Remote Interpreting?

Video remote interpretation (VRI), uses special video conference technology to provide interpretation services. Clients communicate with interpreters by means of a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Thanks to this service, they have access to interpreters in many languages. This includes sign languages and spoken languages.

The major advantage of this service is how efficient it is. A person can contact an interpreter within minutes regardless of the location. Video remote interpreting can be more accurate than over the phone translation because the interpreter can see the client. They observe body language and other non-verbal clues, which can help in the interpretation.

Video remote interpretation is important in environments such as hospitals.Since it is sometimes not possible to arrange a live on-site interpreter ahead of time.

Related: How to Overcome Language Barriers in Healthcare

What Is On-site Interpreting?

This is the most traditional form of interpretation. In this case, the interpreter will be physically in the room with the client. They will be able to observe all participants in the conversation as well as the environment. There may be multiple people in a given meeting. It would be difficult to allow the interpreter to see each participant over a video call. An on-site interpreter is able to see each person in the room, understand them, and provide the most accurate interpretation.

On-site interpretation is ideal for events that will contain deep and technical subjects. The interpreter is required to have significant experience in that specific field. Meeting organizers can arrange for a qualified interpreter well in advance. This allows the interpreter to research the subject thoroughly. The interpreter’s research helps them to use the most accurate terminology.

On-site interpretation can have other benefits. Sometimes, a client may not be comfortable using technology and may find it distracting. In this case, too, a live interpreter will achieve better results.

Situations for Both Video and On-site Interpreting

Almost all international businesses use interpreters. Technical or legal matters often need a bilingual interpreter.

The entertainment industry will use interpreters as well. Companies use interpreters for deaf members of the audience. They interpret events such as songs and theater.

Potential business partners may speak another language. Giving them the opportunity to converse in their spoken language can show respect.

Other Factors to Consider

When considering what type of interpretation will work best for your company there are many other factors to consider.


Companies that have large scale production facilities make extensive use of interpretation. For example, consider a company that produces toys for children. It may have a supply chain that reaches across many countries.

  • They may source materials and have factories in China.

  • Their human resources may be in Eastern Europe.

  • Headquarters may be in London, England.

  • The main market for their goods may be the North American continent.

Immediately we can see the urgent need for high-quality interpreters. Employees within the same supply chain may not be able to communicate with each other.

Size of the Facility

Even within the same company, and facility, miscommunication can be an issue. If more than one language is spoken on the premises, efficiency in production can slow down. The language barrier restricts quality controls, by decreasing the success of site inspections if a manager is not able to communicate with workers on the production line.

However, thanks to the different interpretation services available , key decision-makers can thoroughly understand their business and communicate with almost anyone at any time.


Successful companies may develop and upscale their production facilities very quickly. It may be clear that they need to employ interpretation services. However, employing full-time staff to care for this is an expensive option.

Video remote interpretation is a good solution for companies like this. They can employ VRI service and use it as much or as little as they need to. This avoids the need for full-time staff.

Related: The Importance of Easily-Accessible Interpretation & Translation Services


For any company that is upscaling, the timeline is an essential factor. It could be that they will expand into countries that can provide the needed materials or workforce to support the upscale project. However, knowing when agreements will be made with local executives is not always clear.

In this case, working closely with a company that can provide both high-level on-site interpreters and video remote interpreters is important. Meetings and discussions regarding technical details could arise at any time. You will need to add each eventuality into your timeline when expanding your business.


Some industries will constantly need interpretation services.

The healthcare industry is a prime example. Experts believe that residents speak over 800 languages in New York City. Hospitals in NYC will need to use interpreters every day, because speakers of different languages will constantly be entering the hospital.

It would be impossible for a hospital to retain staff that spoke all these languages. However, there are still many patients that need to communicate their physical symptoms urgently.In this case, remote video interpretation can save lives. The hospital can use video remote interpretation to contact an interpreter. They can quickly communicate with the patient regardless of the language they speak.


Interpretation and translation are a crucial part of the business and medical worlds. Video remote interpreting is one of the many tools we make available to our customers when on site interpretation services are unavailable.

If you would like to learn more about our interpreting and translating services, contact us or follow our blog. We are here to help you communicate when you need it most, wherever you may be.