Virtual Remote Interpreting

Virtual Remote Interpreting (VRI) is a state-of-the-art technological supported solution designed to provide quality interpreting services in the Florida judicial system. The use of VRI technology to support delivery of interpreting services is a promising new practice. While many courts around the country have employed technology to various degrees to help with the ever growing language access demands, most have done so through the use of basic communicative technology such as telephones and video conferencing systems. With the assistance of engineers and optimized technology, advancements have been able to be made in the communicative technology industry that now make it possible to provide communication service similar to that of “telepresence” as seen with services provided through Skype and FaceTime. The VRI solution adapts the use of these telepresence capabilities with a sophisticated business model to bring efficiencies and qualified interpreters into the courtroom. With VRI, the Florida courts are able to bridge the geographical divide that can oftentimes hinder the process of locating qualified interpreters to provide language access services. Other than Arizona, no other state has reached the level of VRI services that Florida possesses.

How has VRI come to hold such an important role in our courts?

In June of 2014, the Supreme Court of Florida proposed to study VRI as a statewide solution and pursued funding for the initiation of a pilot program in the trial courts. The Supreme Court charged the Commission on Trial Court Performance and Accountability with studying the use of VRI technology to support interpreting services. The Commission formed a Workgroup whose members have been tasked with the development of a VRI business model. The goal of this Workgroup is to create the roadmap, guidelines, rules and procedures that are necessary to establish VRI as the norm for provision of service, for court proceedings of short duration. The initial stage began with a pilot program which included five circuits:  7th, 9th, 14th, 15th, and the 16th.  Some of these circuits act as provider courts, consumer courts or both. As a result of this pilot, in Florida, the concept of providing service via technology has had a resounding success which has led to the state courts system becoming the icon for many other courts throughout the country.

It is important to understand that VRI is a unique technology-supported solution which allows the interpreter to provide the full range of interpreting services, including the ability to interpret simultaneously. Lacking the simultaneous component on any given remote system does not constitute a VRI program. In the absence of this component, courts instead are providing interpretation with video, telephone, Skype, teleconferencing systems, speaker phone, etc.

The technology that is currently being considered in Florida as the statewide solution affords the interpreter the following:

  • Visual: control of the camera with zooming feature,
  • Audio: simultaneous, consecutive, private mode,
  • Visual of the interpreter inside the courtroom,
  • Volume control and levels,
  • Features for conferencing other participants, and
  • Team interpreting.

The role of the interpreter is crucial in the expansion of this technology. Florida, as many other states, is faced with the reality of having an insufficient pool of certified and qualified interpreters, statewide. With the expansion of this technology, courts will have access to qualified interpreters regardless of location. This shift in accessibility to qualified interpreters will benefit and impact the courts and the court interpreter profession in a positive way.

In order to provide judges, court interpreters and courtroom participants with general information regarding VRI, this webpage was created for the access of educational and other relevant technical support materials. Please scroll down below for more information regarding the use of VRI services.