microphone
Photo credit: Florian Pircher @ Pixaby

Cankarjev dom – CD Cultural and Congress Centre Ljubljana together with the Slovene Association of Conference Interpreters recommending to adjust to specific requirements for conference interpreting during pandemic times.

Among the necessary changes and adjustments in the organisation of congresses, conferences, seminars, and business events, Cankarjev dom – CD Cultural and Congress Centre Ljubljana adopted new rules in preparing space for simultaneous conference interpreting in the new, pandemic conditions. With the help of interpreters from the Slovene Association of Conference Interpreters, Cankarjev dom gathered together different requirements for simultaneous interpreting in the meetings industry. Established 45 years ago, the Slovene Association of Conference Interpreters is the first and only professional association of conference interpreters in Slovenia.

REQUIREMENTS FOR DISTANCE INTERPRETING

By this method, one interpreter listens to a speech (language A) and interprets that message into a target language (language B) – usually the common language among all other interpreters, for example, English. And then these interpreters interpret further into another, third language (language C).

1. ZOOM IS NOT A SUFFICIENT PLATFORM FOR DISTANCE INTERPRETING

“The Zoom platform is only partially suitable for distance interpretation as it does not allow for the relay or indirect interpreting,” interpreters said. “For professional distance interpretation, platforms that are adapted to the needs of simultaneous interpretation must be used. Zoom works only as an emergency solution,” concluded interpreters from the Slovene Association of Conference Interpreters.

2. HARD CONSOLE FOR DISTANCE INTERPRETING

Interpreting platforms and Zoom can be connected to the classic interpreting console (‘hard console’), which is also used for distance interpretation. The virtual console on a laptop (‘soft console’) should be used only exceptionally.

3. LARGE SCREEN

When interpreting at a distance, the interpreters must also have a screen large enough to display the speaker (the image on the laptop is too small) and presentations (like PowerPoint). Interpreters recommend an FHD screen with HDMI video distribution of 43 cm in diagonal inside the cabin and/or LCD screen on a stand in front of the cabin, measuring 165 cm in diagonal.

simultaneous interpreting european commission
Photo credit: European Commission, www.ec.europa.eu

STANDARDS FOR INTERPRETATION BOOTHS AND EQUIPMENT

The required standards for built-in and moving interpretation booths and equipment that apply to live events and distance interpretation are most clearly stated in the European Commission’s document – Main technical specifications for conference rooms with simultaneous interpreting. There are differences between permanent booths (EN ISO 2603:2016) and mobile booths (EN ISO 4043:2016). Mobile booths are used not just when there are no permanent booths on-site but also in cases when the permanent booths do not meet ISO 2603 requirements or the technical specifications.

Here we present much-shortened requirements:

MINIMUM INTERIOR DIMENSIONS

Minimum interior dimensions are adjusted to the current pandemic. Two interpreters can sit in the built-in cabin, provided that the cabin is divided by a plexiglass partition (extending from the floor to the top and 80 cm from the end of the table), and that the air in the cabin circulates separately in each partitioned half. Only one interpreter is allowed to sit in a mobile booth (i.e. each interpreter must have their own booth measuring at least 1.6m x 1.6 m). More about dimensions can be found in the document.

DOORS, VENTILATION and WINDOWS

Interpreter booths and equipment must be ventilated, cleaned and disinfected each time the interpreters change in the booth. Doors must operate silently. Likewise, the ventilation system must be as soundless as possible and independent from the rest of the building. Each booth needs front and side windows.

SPECIAL PLATFORM FOR MOBILE BOOTHS

Mobile booths shall be placed on a carpeted platform about 30 cm high, leaving a passage of a minimum of 1.30 m wide behind the booths, at the same height as the booth floor; it has safe access.

DISTANCE BETWEEN BOOTHS AND PARTICIPANTS

There should also be a distance, a free space of min. 1.50m between booths and participants to avoid participants being disturbed by voices from the booths.

european commission interpreters
Photo credit: European Commission, www.ec.europa.eu

REQUIREMENTS APPLICABLE TO ALL CONFERENCE ROOMS

In the same documents, European Commission specifies also the requirements that are applicable to all conference rooms. For example, there should be at least one booth for every language into which interpretation is provided. Then, particular specifications with regards to the equipment in the booths define consoles, materials used, technical equipment, several accessories like water and glasses, pens, as well as a CO2 measurement sensor in mobile booths. Additionally, specifications on delegates’ microphones and some other additional requirements like how conference rooms should not have pillars and columns obstructing the interpreters’ view, etc., are defined.

microphone
Photo credit: Jorge Guillen @ Pixaby

REQUIREMENTS FOR THE QUALITY AND TRANSMISSION OF SOUND AND IMAGE

The document that sets out requirements for the quality and transmission of sound and image input of interpreters and specifies the characteristics and video signals can be found here. This document specifies requirements for different varieties of distance interpreting situations in which the interpreters are not at the same location as one or more of the conference participants. This document also addresses the work of manufacturers and providers of simultaneous interpreting equipment and technical staff.

MORE SPECIFIC GUIDELINES

To get even more into the specifics, the Slovene Association of Conference Interpreters gathers all the necessary guidelines in its document Guidelines for distance interpreting (Smernice za tolmačenje na daljavo). For English requirements, Cankarjev dom and the Slovene Association of Conference Interpreters recommend checking the guidelines presented by the AIIC – International Association of Conference Interpreters.