Federal civil rights laws require covered entities to ensure effective communication with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. For people who communicate primarily in American Sign Language, qualified interpreter services may be necessary.
When in-person, on-site interpreting services are not immediately available, technology now provides for an interim solution in the form of off-site interpreting services, called Video Remote Interpreting (VRI). VRI uses videoconferencing technology, equipment, and a high speed Internet connection with sufficient bandwidth to provide the services of a qualified interpreter, usually located at a call center, to people at a different location. VRI is currently being used in a wide variety of settings including hospitals, physicians’ offices, mental health care settings, police stations, schools, financial institutions, and workplaces. Entities may contract for VRI services to be provided by appointment or to be available “on demand” 24 hours a day, seven days per week. As such, there are significant possibilities for the use of VRI technology and services. While there are many benefits to using VRI services, there are limits to the effectiveness of VRI in some settings including but not limited to medical, legal, and court situations. In such settings, the NAD strongly believes that VRI services should be provided only if on-site interpreter services are unavailable.
The NAD continues to advocate for the development of standards and protocols for the proper and effective use of VRI.