What about monitors in SI booths?

Monitors are not a good substitute for a direct view of the room and should only be used under exceptional circumstances as visual support. There are other important factors involved in interpretation, apart from just hearing the speakers' voices.

· Interpreters need to see the speakers' movements, expressions, gestures.

· Interpreters need to see what's happening in the room, to get the feel of the meeting.

    - Studies show that speech is a very small part of human communication. Body language is actually more important.

· The lack of visual feedback requires more concentration and raises stress levels.

· Substituting monitors for direct vision gives interpreters a feeling of alienation and isolation from their audience.

· Studies based on interpreters' personal experience show that working with monitors for lengthy periods of time causes considerable eyestrain and fatigue.


· There are times when monitors in the booths can be a better solution than having to work in a cramped, uncomfortable situation in a very small room.

· What the interpreters need to see:

- any kind of projection: slides, overhead, video

    - what's going on in the room, especially on the rostrum and at the speaker's podium

· A split-screen image on a large monitor can be helpful, with a general image (audience or rostrum, etc., depending on circumstances) and a close-up of the speaker in a lower corner.

· There's a right way to use monitors.

    - They can be useful as an adjunct in situations of poor visibility.

· Good-quality monitors--a MUST.

· How many monitors?

    - preferably 2 or 3, depending on the type of meeting, showing (for example):

      - the screen

      - the speaker at the rostrum

      - the audience in different parts of the room

      - individual speakers in a debate, round-table discussion or question-and-answer session

· Where to put the monitors

    - Large monitors: outside the booth, directly in front

    - Small monitors: on the table inside the booth, if there is space

    - If the monitors are inside the booth, check the location of the microphone vis-à-vis the monitor so that the interpreters don't have to work in uncomfortable positions to be able to speak into the mike and watch the screen at the same time.

· Mobile cameras

    - requires good coordination with the camera operator.

· The interpreters need to have copies of all documents projected in slides or transparencies.

Recommended citation format:
Technical Committee. "What about monitors in SI booths?". aiic.net March 24, 2000. Accessed June 3, 2020. <http://aiic.net/p/148>.

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