Current Teaming Practices in Video Relay Service

June 4, 2013


The field of signed language interpreting is a young profession. Professionally recognized in the 1960s, American Sign Language/English interpretation has been through much change and growth over the years. At the beginning of the profession and still to this day, the most prevalent settings where interpreters work are in the community and educational systems, as well as the medical field and performing arts, to name a few. Interpreters often work alone, although sometimes interpreters are placed with another interpreter during certain assignments. This is called teaming or team interpreting. Since the early 2000s, there has been fast growth in technology and a new means of communication has launched for the deaf community to use American Sign Language (ASL) in communicating with hearing people through a professional signed language interpreter. This innovation is called Video Relay Service (VRS). VRS facilitates the communication of a deaf and a hearing person to communicate over the phone via a professional ASL/English interpreter. Communication between the two parties is possible with a webcam or videophone using American Sign Language and a phone line using spoken English. The Video Interpreter (VI) has the complex task of processing calls between persons with two languages and cultures, as well as operating the technological demands and interpreting, all at the same time. Often the VI does not have any idea what the call will be about, or the goal of the conversation. Now imagine putting a second interpreter into this situation. Teaming in VRS compared to working in the community looks very different. In this study, the following questions are asked: “Do teaming practices exist within VRS?” and, if so, “What are current teaming practices within VRS?


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Rainey, Stacey L., “Current Teaming Practices in Video Relay Service” (2013). Master’s Theses. Paper 6.

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(New York)