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Interpreting Services - In-Person, Phone, and Video

You’ve decided you need an interpreter to assist you in communicating with your client or patient; now it’s time to determine what type of interpreting service would work best. In-person interpreting, phone interpreting, and video interpreting are all great options, but each is appropriate in a different scenario.

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Here are some factors that may help you decide which format will work for your needs:

In-Person Interpreting


  • Helpful if you need an interpreter for an extended period of time.
  • Easier for reviewing complex content or when things need to be explained in great detail.
  • No need for any technology like computer or tablet or other hardware.
  • Better for going over sensitive information like mental health, or end of life, or surgery.
  • Good choice when you need to use visual cues or if body language is important.
  • More personal.


  • Slightly more expensive since person has to be there. You may have to pay for a minimum number of hours as well as travel expenses.
  • Availability can be an issue. Is the language you need available in the area?  Is there an interpreter available at the time you need them?
  • Appointments must be made in advance.

Everything you need to know about  working with an interpreter.

Phone Interpreting


  • Perfect option for short notice, quick appointments.
  • Good for making calls to patients or clients to give lab results or make appointments.
  • Most inexpensive option as calls are billed by minute with no minimum charge.
  • Every language can be accessed.


  • Impersonal for both parties.
  • No visual cues available.
  • Must speak into the phone which is limiting in many scenarios. Speaker phone can be hard to hear.
  • Confusing for interpreter if there is more than one person in the room.

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Video Interpreting


  • This service is great for emergency rooms or minute clinics where people don't have appointments.
  • It bridges the gap between the personal touch of in-person interpreting and phone interpreting.
  • Typically, it’s less expensive than on site interpreting - smaller time minimums and no travel charges.
  • Offers enhanced accuracy over phone interpreting because you can see facial expressions and some visual cues.
  • Available on short notice and more languages available because they don't have to be local.

Learn more about Using Interpreting Services.


  • Technology is required; a computer, tablet or special equipment. If technology isn't working properly, the appointment will not be feasible.
  • Internet hook-up speed must meet certain requirements.
  • Possible delay or lag which could affect the flow of conversation.
  • The interpreter can't see everything going on in the room, some cues may be missed.
  • Difficulty positioning camera for best view of everyone in the room.
  • Possibly not hearing everything if people aren't speaking directly into microphone. Details could be missed.
  • Set up costs involved.

Have questions? Contact Us 

Rapport International specializes in multilingual communications, providing language translation and interpretation services that are accurate and culturally appropriate. We use the right voice and the correct terminology to avoid liability, customize services to your needs, and deliver on time and within your budget. With our 100% satisfaction guarantee, you can trust that it’s done right. Contact us today if you would like more information or to get a free quote.

Categories: Project Planning & Management, Updates & Fun, Spoken Communications

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