During these trying times, it is important that we practice proper distancing protocol to limit the spread of this virus, but to also continue our important work as essential personnel.  We, the interpreters, are allowing the caregivers to provide care to populations that need communication assistance.  Without us, these populations would suffer.  So, I am writing you in an effort to let you know what is going on, how to deal with our new reality, and what the future holds.

Let’s start with “what’s going on”.

Our reality has been turned upside down.  If you are in Virginia, the governor has just issued a “stay-at-home” mandate.  That means that you are to stay home unless you are going to get groceries or if you are working as an “essential” personnel.  Here at The Language Group, our office is closed, and everyone is working remote, with the exception of one or two people that are essential to the office.  As you can imagine, much of our work has slowed down.  Our onsite interpreting demand has dropped almost 75%.  The appointments have either been cancelled or postponed.  The reason?  Doctors and patients are cancelling appointments, and City and State government offices are all working from home.  So, even though the population that needs communication assistance does not change, we have to wait until these enterprises resume their normal course of business operations.  Waiting for the unknown is quite difficult.  That is why we must all practice patience.  Patience is our friend right now.

The next question is:  How do we deal with our new reality?  Here at The Language Group, we are offering our clients the ability to schedule video interpreting sessions.  Therefore, instead of you attending an appointment in person, you will have a link that you will click at the time of the appointment, and you will be connected to the appointment as the virtual interpreter.  We hope that our clients will take advantage of this opportunity.  There will still be instances where you will need to go to an appointment in person.  And if so, please practice all the proper hygienic suggestions in place, such as:  Do not touch anyone.  If you touch a door handle, use a hand sanitizer immediately.  Do not touch your face while outside of your home.  Wash your hands immediately after your appointment.

And if you are stopped by law enforcement asking you why you are not in your home, you can give them two answers:

  1. Show them your interpreter badge.  You are an interpreter.  And as such, you are considered an essential personnel.  You can have the officer call our office to confirm.
  2. If that is not sufficient, we are working on a letter that you can print and carry with you, that you can show if you are pulled over.

The final question is:  What does the future hold.

This is more speculative.  The short answer is:  “I don’t know”.

But my educated guess is that onsite interpreting will return in July or August.  But at a reduced rate.  I believe many of the assignments will slowly be replaced with pre-scheduled video interpreting.  I do believe business will return to “business as usual” for most of us, but I can’t help but wonder if this virus has placed us in a position where we have to be ready for a shift to a more virtual interpreting role.  As much as I believe the most effective communication is accomplished in person, virtual interpreting is being used more and more.  Frankly, doctors feel the same way as interpreters.  They believe that excellent care is done in person, not over a screen.  But even doctors are moving to “tele-health” because of this virus.  And if they are willing to do it, then we have to be prepared to do this as well.

My goal is to make sure that any population that needs communication assistance will continue to have access to communication.  However, the modality in which this communication is delivered is a moving target.  We have to be ready.

With that said, I want to thank you for reading this rather lengthy note.

And please remember that the measure of a person is not when times are good, but when times are bad.  We often cannot control events in our lives.  What we can control is how we choose to react to these events.  That speaks to our true resolve.

Stay healthy, and we will be in touch with the letter for you to carry around.

If you have any questions, I ask that you email us at info@thelanguagegroup.com.



Giovanni Donatelli

Managing Partner

The Language Group