Is telephone interpreting always suitable for the occasion?

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Is telephone interpreting always suitable for the occasion?

Research would suggest that choosing a telephone interpreter over a face-to-face interpreter is not always the right choice. In particular, a study conducted in the States investigated the results of using telephone (and/or video) interpreters in a medical setting over on-site, face-to-face interpreters.

The study was not without its complications, not least because most patients requiring an interpretation service under these circumstances generally only experience one form of interpreting: telephone, video or face-to-face – and not all three. There is therefore no meaningful comparison.

The study revealed that patients rated highly the interpretation service they received, regardless of its form. The medical staff and interpreters, having been involved (either directly or indirectly) with both forms of interpreting, judged the on-site, face-to-face format to be preferable in a hospital or other medical setting. This preference was based on the fact that when a face-to-face interpreter was present, the consultation with the patient tended to last longer (and therefore the patient perhaps had access to more information) than via a telephone interpreting service. You can find more information about this study here –

Reading this study prompted me to look at how our clients use our telephone interpreting service, and indeed the vast majority of our service users come from the legal and business and human resource sectors. Because the service is available 24/7, our clients have the comfort of knowing that interpreting support in over 150 languages is available a phone call away any time of the day or night. It is also surprisingly affordable.

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If you would like more information about our telephone interpreting service, do please get in touch.


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