No one could have foreseen the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the interpreting profession or its accompanying effects on the adoption rate of remote simultaneous interpretation (RSI) all over the world. In a question of weeks, international organizations, national governments, non-governmental organizations, and private corporations were meeting, negotiating, and conducting business online at a scale never seen before, often in multiple languages. But this abrupt adoption of web conferencing with RSI was not entirely smooth or without its challenges. We are now at a stage where we can compile a list of lessons learned during this unprecedented shift in professional practice and turn our sights toward the future to address the new digital world of multilingual communication and interpretation technology’s place in it. This presentation will share some of those lessons learned and some thoughts about what the future of RSI may hold.
Barry Slaughter Olsen is a veteran conference interpreter and technophile with over twenty-five years of experience interpreting, training interpreters, and organizing language services. He is a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) and the Vice-President of Client Success at KUDO, a multilingual web conferencing platform. He was co-president of InterpretAmerica from 2009 to 2020. A pioneer in the field of remote simultaneous interpretation (RSI), he is co-inventor on two patents on RSI technologies. He is a member of the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC). Barry has been interviewed numerous times by international media (CNN, CBC, MSNBC, NPR, and PBS) about interpreting and translation. For updates on interpreting, technology, and training, follow him on Twitter @ProfessorOlsen.