Technical and Health Committee
AIIC’s focal point for interpreting-related technical and health issues, keeping AIIC at the cutting edge of technological innovation
AIIC’s Technical and Health Committee (THC) is the focal point for technological developments and health-related matters in the conference interpreting sphere, covering all issues related to simultaneous and consecutive interpreting and related technologies and equipment.
It provides assistance and advice, makes recommendations, proposes and implements projects and activities in the technical and health and safety fields. It undertakes projects aiming to provide conference interpreters with optimum working conditions and keeps members abreast of technical innovations that affect the interpreting profession. It also works in close cooperation with the experts of several International Standards Organization (ISO) Working Groups.
The THC offers advice and assistance to AIIC members, the Executive Committee and the Advisory Board, groups, regions, other committees, networks and delegations as well as other relevant stakeholders in the interpreting service business such as international organisations and institutions, chief interpreters, architects, interpreting equipment designers, rental companies and manufacturers of equipment, researchers, universities and interpreting schools. It advises on issues such as designing state-of-the-art conference facilities, upgrading interpreting equipment and booths, ISO compliance, Distance/Remote Interpreting solutions, etc.
The THC has been active in the work of ISO/TC37/SC5, namely in Working Group 3 focusing on “Facilities and equipment for interpretation services”, the Working Group’s aim being to update the existing ISO standards 2603 (permanent booths) and 4043 (mobile booths) and define additional standards needed to take into consideration the latest technological developments in the field of interpreting. With THC input, WG3 has successfully managed to bring to market a set of five standards specifying requirements and recommendations for simultaneous interpreting:
- ISO 2603:2016 (building, usability and accessibility of permanent booths)
- ISO 4043:2016 (building, usability, accessibility, set up and dismantling of mobile booths)
- ISO 20108 (quality and transmission of sound and image input to interpreters)
- ISO 20109 (interpreting equipment)
- ISO 22259 (conference systems)
These standards provide the relevant requirements both for the quality and transmission of sound and image provided to interpreters and for the equipment needed in the booths.
In addition, THC has also participated very actively in the development of ISO PAS 24019, a publicly available specification addressing Simultaneous Interpreting Delivery Platforms used for the delivery of simultaneous interpreting services in remote interpreting settings.
Testing of Remote Interpreting Platforms
THC is active in testing different cloud-based systems for remote interpreting in simultaneous mode (Remote Simultaneous Interpreting - RSI) available on the market, for their compliance with the main features of ISO standards 20108 and 20109, with a focus on the transmission of sound and image input and output signals.
The THC measures and collects data on the characteristics of sound and image in cloud-based systems for the delivery of simultaneous interpreting in remote modality, enabling a comparative representation of the characteristics of input signals at the moment of feeding into the system at the source (measurement point 1: source signals) and output signals at the sink (measurement point 2: output signals transmitted to interpreters) related to the following essential parameters applicable to audio and combined audio/video signals for simultaneous interpreting based on the requirements of ISO standards ISO 20108 and ISO 20109: frequency response, lip synchronicity, latency, intelligibility, hearing protection, audio quality and video quality.
Research and Development
The THC proposes or undertakes innovative research in different technology and health-related areas in collaboration with other AIIC groups such as the Research Committee (RC ) and the Task Force on Distance Interpreting (TFDI) as well as with other organisations. Evidence-based findings from research can be used to underpin future guidelines and recommendations.
In the field of remote interpreting, the THC worked closely with FIFA and the University of Geneva in a large-scale academic field study researching stress levels, personal preferences, job satisfaction, equipment improvements, visual input, physical reactions, etc. Its members have also contributed to TFDI research, guidance and guidelines.
The THC is currently collaborating with other relevant stakeholders on researching several health-related issues such as the impact of CO2 levels in the booth, acoustic shocks (a key finding of our survey being that some 47.1% of respondents had experienced this).
Further research is also needed into other areas related to interpreter health such as stress, etc. and the impact of technological developments (including but not limited to distance interpreting) and resulting practice on interpreter health and wellbeing.
Given the response to the acoustic shock survey, the THC is currently looking at the development of a hearing protection device for interpreters
The THC holds remote meetings and virtual discussions in addition to annual face-to-face meetings. It also develops other activities to support AIIC members, groups and regions upon demand.
Photo: Owen Beard / Unsplash