When we ushered in the new year and welcomed 2020, who could have imagined what the following months would bring. The pandemic has forced everyone, regardless of profession or occupation to reevaluate how we do things. For many of us, the concept behind the saying ‘the show must go on’ has never been more evident. As an interpreter in the court system, I know first hand that due process and the constitutional rights afforded in our legal system require people accused of crimes must receive their day in court. Business, commerce and agriculture must continue in some manner.
So what do we do when faced with unprecedented change? Our first option is to look for solutions. However, in looking for solutions we can’t afford to take an approach of “anything goes”. As interpreters who support the legal system, business, commerce, education, and public service, we have to find a balance between finding solutions and making sure those solutions are aligned with workable conditions. An interpreter who can’t hear, can’t interpret. An interpreter who has to use various devices and multiple communications means for a single assignment is more distracted than one who can use a single solid setup and concentrate on the complex task of simultaneous interpreting. You have to draw a line between what can be done, and what should be done in order to provide high-quality interpreting services.
You wouldn’t expect the firefighters to show up at a burning house with buckets of water or a garden hose. That simply won’t get the job done. You wouldn’t expect a court reporter to transcribe court proceedings while standing because no one offered them a chair. There are certain tools of each trade that are necessary and although the current situation requires us to look for different ways to accomplish the same tasks, they shouldn’t be sub-standard.