By Sarah Stockler-Rex, Quality Assurance Supervisor; Tatiana González-Cestari, PhD, CHITM, Director of Language Service Advocacy; Paloma Peña, Director of Quality and Customer Experience; and Cat McAlpine, Communications Manager.

This piece is the third in a series, written by Cloudbreak Health’s quality and training leaders, that discusses medical language access setup and related topics.

In our last installment, we discussed how to create a Language Access Plan that includes Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) to ensure your facility is not only compliant but providing appropriate patient care. In this volume, we focus on what interpreters need for general setup and preparation to deliver a quality VRI experience.

The global pandemic has forced entire industries to convert to remote workforces, and medical interpretation is no exception. At Cloudbreak, we’ve been able to adjust to shifting daily needs through our many years of experience providing quality video interpretation and telehealth services.

For those new to video interpretation, or interpreting remotely, the following guide will help you pivot to remote work during these unpredictable times. Supervisors and Managers of interpreters will also find this information helpful before they begin supporting interpreters in a new environment.


Let’s assume you have the proper training and experience to interpret. Now, you need to translate those skills to a remote work setup.

The following list includes both items you need to have ready and tasks you need to complete to work as a video remote interpreter. While this list is written with the remote interpreter in mind, who may now be working from a home office during the pandemic, these guidelines apply to video medical interpretation whether it’s conducted at home or in an office.


Your work area should be compliant with the Healthcare Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), well lit, quiet, and well ventilated.


What it means

A HIPAA compliant space is a private and secure space. This means your home office has doors and if there are windows, that they have blinds and close. This is very important so no one else can see or listen to calls. No one else should enter or be in the room with you while you are interpreting.

You should have a computer connected to a high-speed, private and secured internet connection; and a desk drawer that locks, to store your notebook, or a way to destroy notes after every session such as a shredder.

Dedicated workspace

Your home office should be a room dedicated to your work. It should not be a room that also doubles as a laundry room, dining room, etc. 

Keep it quiet

Your home office isn’t just the room you work in, but also the surrounding environment. There shouldn’t be distracting noise from children, pets, or the surrounding area.


Start with a blank slate

It is recommended you use backdrops or mounts that are totally blank, to keep your image professional and not distracting. If you cannot obtain a backdrop or mount you should have a blank, untextured wall behind you, with no photographs or other decoration hanging on it.

Once you’ve setup your camera, the camera view shouldn’t show anything other than a blank wall or a professional backdrop that has been approved by your company (if applicable). The ceiling, floor, doors, or windows should not show.

Make it bright

Your workspace should be well lit, with no heavy shadows. Make sure your light source isn’t behind you, which will make you appear in silhouette.

Ready your tools

Your space should have everything you need on hand. You should never have to get up from your desk during interpretation. Have your reference web pages saved on your browser and a notebook and writing utensils at your desk. Use an ergonomic chair and set it up to maintain good posture.



Attach your webcam

If you’re using an external webcam, affix it to the top of the monitor you’ll be looking at for interpretation. Make sure the webcam is centered on the monitor.

Attach your headset

Use a comfortable, noise-canceling headset with a microphone. It’s recommended you use a headset with a mic that will stay in place once adjusted rather than one where the microphone is built into the wire/cord. Test the speakers and microphones that are incorporated in the headset. All other microphones and speakers in your computer must be turned off.

Position yourself

When seated, with both feet flat on the floor, in a comfortable straight-back position, your head and shoulders should be fully in view on camera. Your eyes should be centered on screen. There should be space above your head. The camera should be facing you head-on not at an angle pointing up or down.

Check your surroundings

You should be well lit, without any heavy shadows. Angle your camera to only show you and your signing space (for signed language interpreters). The camera view shouldn’t show the ceiling, floor, hallway, door, window, or personal items. Again, the backdrop (or wall) behind you should be blank.


After you have set up your space, test and ensure the following are working properly prior to taking any calls:

  • Internet Connectivity
  • Devices and software
  • Noise-canceling capabilities and lighting with test calls or with software testing abilities
  • Sound levels
  • Camera view


Be ready

  • Dress professionally and wear solid colors (reds are strongly discouraged for video).
  • Be on time by testing all settings prior to the beginning of your shift (see part III above).
  • Be seated, facing forward, and have your headset on before you answer a call.
  • Make sure you are sitting square in your chair with your shoulders back and centered in camera view.
  • Have all the appropriate computer settings and software open and ready as mentioned above.
  • Have information resources collected and ready to be used (online or not) prior to beginning interpretation to ensure accuracy and clarity. It is helpful to have medical dictionaries or other resources open and ready to go at the beginning of any interpretation.
  • Have a note-taking method setup (online/pen & paper) and ready.
  • Have any scripting needed or assigned ready to be used.

Greet the partner

Make sure to smile and use an appropriate scripted greeting. For example, “Hello, my name is Cat, interpreter ID 1234. I will be your Spanish<>English interpreter”, followed by your interpreter pre-session. Your presence should be professional yet reassuring.

Make eye contact

This is another area where onsite interpreting differs from video remote interpreting. Video remote interpreters look directly at the camera to show professionalism. Eye contact lets the user know you are engaged. Focusing on the video also helps you read additional context clues like body language. Set your viewing window directly below your camera to help maintain eye contact.

Try these tips for setup and preparation. They should help you feel more prepared and confident with your video interpretation. Stay safe!