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Voice Recognition For VRS?

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:02pm

It’s widely agreed in the national Deaf Community, not just in Michigan’s, that there is a major dearth of interpreters who can voice accurately and smoothly. This issue is now spilling over to the VRS industry and one likely reason for this is because of the industry’s draining the pool of community/free-lance interpreters, who are notorious for their poor voicing skills.

I was at a meeting the other day, where this issue was raised and she wanted to know what actions she could take against the operator. This naturally sparked several side conversations. One of these side conversations involved me and Janet Jurus, who is the state interpreter and legislative lead of Michigan’s Division of Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Janet proposed an idea that I think is excellent – have voice recognition software caption what the VRS operators are saying.  That way, the majority of us would be able to track what the operator’s voicing, and be able to immediately correct the operator, if mistakes are made.

Since the majority of interpreters now work at least part-time for the VRS providers, it is my opinion that not only would this reduce problems, but also become an excellent component of the overall solution to ensure that interpreters make an earnest effort to keep their voicing skills up to par. It is easier to document the insufficient quality and ability of interpreters through the VRS, because you have the ability to record the calls, and with captions being part of the picture now, it would increase the validity of the Deaf Community’s complaints about the sub-par voicing skills of many interpreters.

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