Video Remote Interpreting

Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) is a service used when the interpreter and the deaf person are in different locations. Using high-speed internet and either software or web-based platforms, the interpreter can access consumers via video and audio feeds. People can then communicate with the interpreter via their own devices, such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

VRI services are an option for many institutions. Remote interpreting can be provided by either an independent contractor or an agency. It may be a solution for provider shortages, fill niche needs, effectively allocate financial resources, or ensure consistent services. 

VRI services are not effective in all circumstances. Factors to take into consideration include but are not limited to: the deaf person’s preferences, the availability, quality, and stability of the internet connection, acoustics, and the availability of equipment. It’s important to talk to the deaf person to get feedback about their communication preferences and whether VRI is the right fit for them. The underlying goal is to provide quality, sustainable services. 

Regardless of whether interpreting services are provided in-person or remote, the deaf person must be able to “receive information from, and convey information to, the covered entity.” The Department of Justice (2010), Revised ADA Requirements: Effective Communication document outlines:

  • Standards for effective communication
  • Requirements for qualified interpreters
  • Minimum technical standards for entities considering remote services


It’s important to assess whether VRI will provide effective communication in a given setting. Some of the information to gather includes the situation (meeting, class, presentation), the location (on site, off site, online, room setup, room acoustics), the number of participants, and the format (lecture, 1:1 meeting, group activity). It’s also important to know whether the staff who will need to handle the technical side of things have the knowledge they need. It is imperative to provide it to them if they do not, to ensure that VRI services are implemented appropriately and effectively.

Training and Feedback

While some students will already have experience with VRI, it can be important to offer training if they are new to it. All users, deaf and hearing, should be familiarized with the service, equipment, what to expect, and how to navigate challenges. Consider the following approaches:

  • Provide an opportunity for an orientation and demonstration of the service.
  • Discuss what remote services will look like in each setting and the roles of everyone involved.
  • Provide resources or materials that outline responsibilities, logistics, and procedures.
  • Discuss basic technical issues, troubleshooting strategies, and possible solutions.
  • Offer tips to ensure effective use of remote services.
  • Routinely gather feedback from the deaf person, as their experience and preferences regarding VRI are an essential component. There are many ways to do so, including:
    • Regular check-in meetings
    • Emailed surveys
    • An accommodations feedback form

Additional Resources

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