ASL Interpreting by video: a growing field

William Woods ASL

Federal civil rights laws require effective communication to be provided to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. But when an interpreter is not immediately available, companies, hospitals, mental health settings, schools, police stations, courthouses and many more can turn to video relay service interpreting (VRS) and video remote interpreting (VRI) services and providers.

Video relay service (VRS) is a free telephone relay service using video technology to allow deaf and hard of hearing persons to make and receive phone calls using American Sign Language (ASL).

Since its inception in 2000, VRS — in a way, the first Facetime or Skype— has only gotten better, with the giant leap in video technology, and availability of high speed internet connection wherever you have a signal.

The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) says that there are thousands of sign language interpreters working in this setting, and more.

“VRS companies provide millions of minutes of interpreting services per month, and given its current rate of growth, VRS will continue to be a viable employment setting for sign language interpreters into the future,” RID’s Standard Practice Paper says.

VRS companies are always looking for certified interpreters to provide the best interpreting services to their clientele. William Woods University ASL Interpretation Studies students interested in working for a telecommunications company that provides video services will have the opportunity to serve different kinds of people in various situations. Courses like ITP410 – Interpreting in Advanced Settings II covers VRS/VRI work, and the different kinds of uses for the ever-advancing interpreting technology.