All about Over-the-Phone Interpretation Services (OPI)

over the phone interpretation

All about OPI (Over-the-Phone Interpretation) Services


What is Over-the-Phone Interpretation?

Over-the-phone interpretation, or OPI, allows you to talk to another person who does not share a language with you—but without the need for an on-site interpreter. OPI allows for a great deal of convenience. If you have any available phone (smartphone or landline), you can use OPI services to your advantage.

When two parties who do not speak a common language want to communicate with each other, one of them can simply take out their mobile phone and call up an interpreter based in a remote location. The caller uses the speakerphone function on his or her device so that both parties can hear and talk to the interpreter at all times. Both parties take turns talking to the interpreter while he or she listens quietly and intently. Then, the interpreter relays their message to the other party in the other language, after which the other party will convey his or her reply. The interpreter listens to the reply and communicates the message to the first party.

By acting as a middleman between the two parties, the interpreter can break down any communication barriers that exist between them without being physically present at their location.


Limitations of Over-the-Phone Interpretation

Not Suitable for Communicating with Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) People

One disadvantage to over-the-phone interpretation is that you cannot use OPI to communicate with deaf or hard of hearing people. You will have to use video remote interpretation (VRI) for this purpose instead.


The Interpreter Has to Be Extra Careful While Interpreting Over the Phone

According to a study conducted in 1967 by UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian, the interpretation of any spoken message is 55% visual, 38% vocal, and only 7% auditory. 

A skilled interpreter would be able to detect the combined 45% of vocal and auditory communication over the phone. However, the 55% of communication that is visual isn’t transmitted over the phone. 

To combat this limitation, the interpreter has to be extremely careful when performing services over the phone. An experienced interpreter is able to do a much better job in this regard. However, even the most experienced might have to ask additional questions while interpreting to clear any doubts and remove the chances of miscommunications arising. Thus, OPI services might take more time on occasion than would on-site interpretation.


Advantages of Over-the-Phone Interpretation

Availability and Convenience

The major selling point of OPI is that it is always readily available, making communication possible at all times. Sometimes, you have no prior warning before you need an interpretation service. With the option of OPI available, you can always reach a remote interpreter when you need one. It does not matter where you are in the world or even what time it is – if you ever need interpretation services, you can simply take out your phone and call up an OPI service.


No Internet Requirements

One huge advantage OPI has over VRI is that it does not require an active internet connection to function. All you need for OPI is a basic phone connection. If you are in a place where your mobile internet is not working properly, or it is too slow for a video call, you can always rely on OPI services to get you through the day. 


OPI Enables Communication Between Diverse Groups

Today, global trade is more common than ever. Online shopping has made purchasing and selling things around the world both easy, economical and convenient. However, language barriers exist country to country, region to region and even seller to seller. And, particularly for those B2B companies making the deals that render the new global market possible, this endless series of language barriers can make communication and trade difficult. Over-the-phone interpretation can step in to remove these hurdles and enable seamless communication between people from all parts of the world.


Certified Interpreters with Subject Matter Knowledge

You might face a situation where a bilingual person is physically present on-site who can interpret between you and another person. Some of the time, you can use that bilingual person to convey the message to the intended party. However, in many cases, you still have to choose to call a certified interpreter on the phone instead.

Certified interpreters undergo extensive training that allows them to offer their services in specialized fields. Examples include the education, legal, healthcare, entertainment, finance, manufacturing, marketing, and technology industries, among others. The interpreter’s specialized training in these fields imparts them with knowledge such as industry terminology, codes of ethics, and the proper industry insight to be effective communicators in these fields.

For instance, a doctor will prefer to use a healthcare or medical interpreter to communicate with their patient rather than a bilingual person. The medical interpreter will know the exact names of the diseases and conditions in different languages and will know about different medical concepts and ethical codes that allow him or her to convey messages between the doctor and patient more effectively and accurately. A specialized interpreter will also honor doctor-patient confidentiality and keep all interpretation services in compliance with HIPAA guidelines. 

In the same example of a medical interpreter, these professionals will also display exceptional psychological resilience in extreme or tense situations, such as when medical professionals are in the ER attending to a car accident victim. An ordinary bilingual person might panic in such situations and would therefore be unable to offer impartial interpretation services. OPI provides the immediate access you need to interpreters with the right expertise.


Where Can You Find Reliable OPI Services?

If you are looking for a reputable and reliable over-the-phone interpretation service, you’ve come to the right place. Acutrans has been offering quality translation and interpretation services to individuals and organizations around the world for more than 20 years.

At Acutrans, we have a team of over 2,000 linguists, which allows us to offer interpretation services in more than 200 languages. We offer certified interpreters for a host of different industries which include the life sciences, health care, finance, legal, manufacturing, marketing, government, and entertainment, among many others.

You can tap into our services in any of three forms. We offer on-site interpreters, video remote interpreters, and—of course—over-the-phone interpreters. With always-available remote interpretation facilities, we have your back whenever you need us.


Contact us to get a free quote for high quality, professional, and privacy-centered over the phone interpretation services from Acutrans.