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Interpretation Case Study: Translating Vassar’s Virtual Commencement

COVID-19 forced many schools to turn campus events into virtual events or cancel them altogether. The commencement ceremony at Vassar College, a liberal arts college located in Poughkeepsie, New York, was no exception.

The Issue

Vassar has historically held its commencement on its New York campus. Speakers, graduates and well-wishers were all together in one place. Vassar would contract Ubiqus to provide interpretation equipment, technical staff and qualified interpreters to accommodate the needs of non-English speakers in the audience.

Since the pandemic forced the school to close, Vassar had to find another way to hold its commencement – and to ensure multilingual attendees could follow the proceedings.

The Solution: Pre-Recorded Interpretation

As it has in the past, Vassar booked interpreters from Ubiqus. However, since participants had to log in remotely, and since portions of the ceremony were pre-recorded, the interpreters couldn’t simultaneously interpret for multilingual speakers as they typically would.

Instead, Vassar provided Ubiqus with pre-recorded speeches from the commencement speakers and Ubiqus sent them to the interpreters to record into the target language. Ubiqus then sent these recordings to the team at Vassar, who spliced them into the pre-recorded remarks so the translation could be heard in sync with the speakers.

The Result: Seamless Interpretation

Thanks to Ubiqus’ creative thinking, all attendees were able to follow the virtual proceedings. The interpreted remarks could be heard alongside the original speeches, and Vassar was able to post the commencement on its website in English, Spanish and Mandarin.

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