The Emergence of Telephonic Interpreting

History of Telephonic Interpreting

Telephonic interpreting is a newer technology in the language service industry. Telephonic interpreting was originally introduced in Australia in 1973. It was designed as a free service to facilitate communication with Australia’s growing immigrant communities. It wasn’t until eight years later that the first over-the-phone telephonic interpreting (OPI) service was offered in the United States.

During the 80’s and early 90’s, telephonic interpreting was introduced to major markets across the United States, including financial services, telecommunications, healthcare, and public safety. During the 90’s, long distance call prices decreased and there was much greater access to toll-free numbers. With increasing numbers of immigrants coming to the United States, telephonic interpreting became a very high-demand service.

Rising demand for telephonic interpreting continued into the 21st century, which resulted in the need for a more sophisticated service. With advances in technology, telephonic interpreting now boasted quicker connection speeds, higher-quality interpreters, as well as an increased awareness of customer service. Today the telephonic interpreting market is estimated to be over $772.07 million annually.

What is Telephonic Interpreting? How Does it Work?

Telephonic interpreting is a service that allows human interpreters to connect with other individuals via telephone. The telephonic interpreter listens to what is said in one language, and repeats it in another. This allows people who don’t speak the same language to communicate. Most telephonic interpreting services use consecutive interpreting, also known as relay interpreting, where the interpreter waits for the speaker to finish and then renders what has been said into the listener’s language.

There is very little you need to get started with telephonic interpreting. First, find a language service provider that offers the service. These days most companies have this service or something similar to it. Once you have selected a provider that has telephonic interpreting service, all that is required to get started is a telephone.

Once you are on the phone with the telephonic interpreting company, you enter a code or ID that was provided by your language service provider, identify which language you would like to communicate in, and you’ll be connected to a qualified interpreter in less than one minute!

What is Telephonic Interpreting Used For?

There are a number of settings where telephonic interpreting is used, including , government, financial services, emergency call centers (9-1-1), health care, and many others.

Telephonic interpreting is most helpful when you have an urgent need and are not able to obtain an on-site interpreter in a timely manner. For example, sometimes a patient enters the emergency room and needs an interpreter to communicate with the doctors. If the patient is in need of immediate assistance and cannot wait for a human interpreter to arrive at the hospital, doing it over the phone is a good option. Communicating clearly in less than one minute can make a big difference in a life-and-death situation!

For more information, see Michael’s post, “Is a telephonic interpreter better than a face to face interpreter?”

When time is of the essence, pick up the phone. There’s no quicker way to get your message across in another language.

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