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Top tips for successfully managing your meeting over video relay for British Sign Language - BID Services

Top tips for successfully managing your meeting over video relay for British Sign Language - BID Services

Dawn Harrison, Interpreting Team Leader from BID Services - a supplier on our 402 framework - discuss how to successfully host multi participant British Sign Language interpreted meetings over video relay.

Does the thought of managing a large meeting over video cause you anxiety? Well, imagine adding in a new dimension, such as a meeting that needs to be interpreted into British Sign Language, and this may further contribute to your fear.  

Well, don’t worry because there are video relay services for BSL interpreted meetings available, such as BID Services. 

To start, it’s important to bear in mind that the use of video relay interpreting causes more fatigue than face to face interpreting. That’s because sign language is a three dimensional language and receiving this on a two dimensional screen requires more intense concentration. To ensure the interpreter can deliver a high standard of interpretation, and to support the wellbeing of both the interpreter and the deaf participant(s), the following guidelines should be followed. 

Top Tips for managing your meeting over video relay:

  Prior to the meeting (and preferably at least the day before), the meeting organiser should forward all preparation materials to the service providers’ Coordination team.
  Ensure you tell them how many attendees will be attending the meeting at the time of the booking. This will help determine the number of interpreters that will be required to support your event.  
  Nominate one person to act as chair for the participants in the meeting. This will mean managing turn taking and keeping an eye on the typed chat facility. 
  As participants are joining the meeting, it is likely that several informal conversations will be taking place. Interpreters will not be interpreting these unless specifically asked to do so. 
  Ask all members of the meeting to mute their microphones, until they are invited to speak by the chair/host of the meeting. Using a BSL interpreter will always mean that there is a slight time delay in communication, however the use of video calling will increase this time delay, so allow for fair turn taking. 
  Ask all participants that are not speaking/signing to turn off their cameras until they are contributing.  
  For meetings of over one hour there will be two sign language interpreters. Only one interpreter will be visible on the screen, this will aid the deaf participant to know which interpreter is active. The other interpreter will have their camera and microphone turned off.  
  After approximately 15 to 20 minutes the second interpreter will appear on the screen, which will signal to the active interpreter and the Deaf participants that they will be taking over the interpretation. 
  It is imperative that regular breaks are allocated to prevent interpreter and deaf participant fatigue. For example, 10 minutes in each hour.  
  Participants should use the typed chat facility to notify the chair that they would like to contribute to the meeting. Once they are given the go ahead, they can turn on their microphone and camera.  
  There may be instances where all of the participants need to be visible on the screen. If this is the case it is vital that microphones are turned off to prevent additional distraction for the interpreter. However, the chair will need to ensure that appropriate turn taking continues. 
  Interpreters will need to make the screen larger when voicing over for a Deaf person, so allow adequate time for this to be done. In addition, once the Deaf person has finished contributing, the Interpreter will need to reduce the screen size which will take a few seconds. 
  Interpreters will take a moment at the start of the meeting to explain to the participants how they work. For example, how the interpretation will be passed between co-workers, how they will be orchestrating the voice over of deaf participants and what coping strategies will be utilised should there be an issue with technology, such as the screen freezing. 



We hope you find these tips helpful. 

Dawn Harrison

Interpreting Team Leader 

To find out more about BID Services or for more information on ESPO’s 402 framework please click here or contact the People and Professional Services team on: 
t: 07584 158137


BID Services 

BID Services is a charity. We work in partnership with people with a sensory impairment, as well as those with a physical disability or mental health. Our mission is to provide high quality services and opportunities that make it possible for people to have choice and control over their lives.