The THC's technical activities

The members of the THC act as consultants with builders, planners, developers, architects, operators of convention centres, technicians, etc. insofar as installations for simultaneous interpretation are concerned. Our work in this area is based on the following standards:

· ISO 2603:1998, Booths for simultaneous interpretation -General characteristics and equipment

· ISO 4043:1998, Mobile booths for simultaneous interpretation - General characteristics and equipment

· ISO 3382: 1997, Acoustics - Measurements of the reverberation time of rooms with reference to other acoustical parameters

· ISO 140-4:1998, Acoustics - Measurement of sound insulation in buildings and of building elements - Part 4: Field measurements of airborne sound insulation between rooms

· IEC 60914:1988, Conference Systems - Electrical and Audio Requirements

The only way to save time and money and to have a facility working to everyone's satisfaction is to consult with professional interpreters at the project planning stage, before plans are finalised.

The success or failure of an international conference centre with simultaneous interpretation facilities largely depends on certain technical and health criteria, some obvious and others not.

What are the basic requirements? Interpreters must see, hear and of course, breathe. This means that visibility, ventilation and properly designed and maintained SI equipment are essential. As interpreters spend a good part of the day--and indeed of their lives--in interpretation booths and never work alone, the booths must be big enough for 2, 3 or more interpreters to work comfortably in.

This means:

· enough space inside the booth and plenty of leg room

· good lighting

· good ventilation and climate control

· enough space on the table for equipment, papers and reference books

· a good view of the conference room and its occupants

· proper angle and distance from the rostrum so interpreters can read slides and transparencies

Another important factor are the specific needs of the blind and disabled. There is no reason for an interpreter not to be able to work from a wheelchair, which means that SI booths must be accessible for wheelchairs, etc. and not, as too often happens, by some remote spiral staircase! It also means having wide enough doors and other features that must be thought out in advance.

Easy access is also helpful for those of us who are getting on in years -- or younger colleagues who may have had a skiing accident, or some other such misfortune.

Just as important as getting into the booth is getting out in case of emergency; SI booths should be within easy access of well-lit emergency exits.

Unfortunately, we all too often find booths designed and built by people who know nothing about our job and approach the issue as if they were looking for a place like a broom closet that should take up as little space as possible.

The THC is especially interested in working with everybody involved in the design and construction of SI booths so they will comply with the international standards and provide a reasonably comfortable working environment for conference interpreters, who will then be able to do a much better job of facilitating the multilingual communication so important in international gatherings.

Recommended citation format:
Technical Committee. "The THC's technical activities". March 24, 2000. Accessed May 31, 2020. <>.

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