Interpreters may occasionally use a portable transmitter and portable receivers with headphones to pass out to the foreign language speakers. They are very convenient and useful but can only be used in certain proceedings like in hearings and in mediations and cannot be used in depositions, for example.
The equipment is used whenever an interpreter does simultaneous interpreting vs. consecutive interpreting. Simultaneous interpreting would be when we need one of the parties to hear everything throughout a hearing, for example. When there is a witness on the stand you would use consecutive interpreting instead. Meaning the interpreter remains silent when the question is being asked and then after it is asked proceeds to translate it. Likewise, the interpreter is to remain silent during the answer and then will translate after the witness has finished answering.
This is done to keep a clear record of the proceedings. Usually, the court reporter will jump in as soon as the interpreter goes into the simultaneous mode. In general simultaneous mode is frowned upon in any proceeding with a court reporter, except hearings.
In hearings, the limited English speaking person (LEP) has the right to participate and understand everything that is going on (particularly in criminal cases). This is called the equal footing principle. It establishes that an LEP should have access to the same information an English speaker would have in a similar situation.
Though not necessary, mics and portable transmitters often help reduce the volume of the interpreter’s voice that gets to the attorneys or the court, since they allow the interpreter to sit further back. You don’t really want the interpreter to sit too far behind because we also need to hear every word that comes out of the court and the parties. In another video, I will go into some specialized voice silencing equipment that comes in handy for when you want to reduce the intrusiveness of the interpreter’s voice to the minimum.
Another great benefit of using an agency that provides free wireless interpreting equipment is that it can be used for multiple people at the same time. We can hand receivers out for up to 5 persons free of charge, and all of them will be able to hear the entire hearing or mediation. Remember we cannot give this equipment to parties who are excluded from the courtroom if the rule has been invoked.