Preparing for a Remote Interpreted Session

Interpreted sessions can take place remotely over the telephone or over video. The terms “OPI” (over the phone) and “telephonic” are often used in reference to telephone interpreting. The term “VRI” (video relay interpreting) is also increasing in use as more facilities acquire this technology.

The Pre-Session

Clinicians and other staff in health care settings should be aware that communication through an interpreter, especially via telephone, can be an unfamiliar and strange experience for recently arrived refugees. Thus, a brief introduction to the interpreted session, known as the pre-session, is a best practice recommendation. In this pre-session, the provider and interpreter lay out the “ground rules” for the session. Generally, this addresses the interpreter’s role in the encounter and the intent to respect the confidential nature of the forthcoming discussion. The interpreter can request that all parties pause frequently to allow the interpreter to interpret accurately and completely.

The pre-session may be less-frequently incorporated into over-the-phone interpreter sessions. While the provider may not notice the difference, the absence of the pre-session may leave the limited English proficient (LEP) client in the dark, especially if they have never utilized a telephone interpreter before.

This scripted introduction can be led by the health care provider via the telephone interpreter. The inclusion of an introduction in all interpreted encounters will hopefully put the LEP client at ease and create a situation in which all parties are clear in regards to the protocol, goal, and role of the interpreter.
Download script [PDF]

Contributed by The National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCHIC)