Amid growing demand for remote interpretation services in Southwestern Ontario, Across Languages is answering the call.
More than 170 interpreters are now able to respond to more requests than ever in real-time, after the London, Ont.-based agency upgraded its network infrastructure with a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF).
“This technology has revolutionized our ability to get to clients the moment they need communication support – virtually or in person,” said Anna Hendrikx, Across Languages’ Executive Director. “Now whenever someone contacts us for help communicating with a non-English speaker, we can connect them immediately to an interpreter.”
Read more: Across Languages enhances network and transforms programs thanks to Ontario Trillium Foundation capital grant!
The improvement in emergency response times has been like been night and day for Across Languages interpreters, who are often called to hospitals, police stations and shelters throughout Southwest Ontario.
“Interpreters are essential in these situations. They are frontline workers,” said Hendrikx. “Can you imagine arriving at a hospital or a shelter in crisis and being unable to explain what you need to the people who are there to help?
“It’s critical that we are able to respond to all calls for service – especially when there is a crisis involving a non-English speaker – as soon as they come in.”
On June 28, London-Fanshawe MPP Teresa Armstrong visited Across Languages, where she was greeted by several employees in their mother tongues, which included Spanish, Arabic, French, Ukraine, Nepali and Dutch. Staff gave Armstrong a tour of the facilities and showed her the updated network server made possible with the $19,600 OTF capital grant.
Across Languages responds to about 2,000 requests for interpretation and translation services every month. Service is available every day of the year, 24 hours per day. Its three-person intake team helps connect clients with more than 170 trained interpreters who speak 85 languages and dialects.
New system replaces an aging system that crashed almost daily
The new technology replaces an aging server and computer system that would crash almost daily, often making it difficult for intake staff to connect with and dispatch interpreters, who mostly work from their homes.
This became a constant source of stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, when requests for remote phone and video-interpretation skyrocketed, increasing the need for reliable real-time connectivity.
“This grant has equipped Across Languages to better serve the community and our interpreters,” said Hendrikx. “It has changed our world.”