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Remote Simultaneous Interpretation

UN interpreters always strive to support multilingualism and provide high quality services.

High quality audio is essential if interpreters are to provide their service. The risk of disruptions in interpretation and of damage to the hearing and auditory health of interpreters increases whenever the audio quality is not compliant with the applicable (ISO) standards.

The best way of achieving the best possible audio quality is to observe the following requirements.

Best Practices

When taking the floor

Microphone and camera should be turned on only when taking the floor.

Papers should be kept away from the microphone while speaking to avoid rustling that drowns out the sound and that is very unpleasant for listeners.

Speak at a moderate pace; no more than 120 words per minute.

If reading from a statement etc., this should be provided in advance and the interpreters will check against delivery. 

The microphone should be turned off at the conclusion of each statement, and remain muted, to avoid sound distortion. 

 

Microphone

Use USB-connected, unidirectional, cardioid pattern desktop microphones, together with separate headphones. Headphones should not have an integrated microphone. Some examples of suitable models of microphone are available below. Avoid using earpod or earbud microphones (e.g. Apple earpods).

Built-in computer microphones must not be used.

Avoid using video-conferencing rooms that are equipped with omnidirectional, multi-party ‘spider’ microphones. Instead use a conference room equipped with unidirectional, gooseneck microphones (one per participant) similar to the meeting rooms in the Palais des Nations.

Position the microphone at a reasonable distance and speak directly into it.

Ensure that the platform recognizes the microphone.

 

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Device

Connect to the meeting from a desktop or laptop computer, never a tablet or smartphone. 

Make sure you use the platform-recommended browser and that said browser is fully updated.

 

 

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Internet connection

Use an ethernet cable to ensure maximum stability.

In the absence of an ethernet cable, ensure your WiFi signal is excellent, moving closer to the modem if needed. 

Minimum upload and download speed should be 10 Mbps. This can be measured on sites such as www.speedcheck.org or www.speedtest.net

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Setting

Participate from a small, quiet indoor room with the doors and windows closed and with all other sources of background noise and interference eliminated (turn off loud air conditioning, etc.). Avoid rooms with high ceilings as this causes reverberation that distorts the sound.

All sound notifications and applications on all devices should be turned off before the meeting starts.

 

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Camera and image

Participants who wish to take the floor should have access to a camera as interpreters rely heavily on the facial expressions and body language of participants to do their job properly.

The camera should provide a clear, frontal view of the speaker, ideally from the shoulders up.

Avoid strong backlight, such as windows.

Testing

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Pre-meeting testing

You are strongly recommended to log into the meeting 60 minutes before it starts, to check your equipment, connection and setting with the technical moderators.

Equipment

A USB-connected, unidirectional microphone and headphones are required. You should not use your PC’s integrated microphone and speakers. An external webcam would also provide higher quality video feeds.

meeting audio

Audio and Video Quality

You have three options to test this fully virtually:

  1. Self-test. You can go to https://zoom.us/test, click on “Join”, and follow the instructions.
  2. Multiple participants test with a free Zoom account.
    • Register to get a free Zoom account at https://zoom.us/signup
      NOTE: Do not use a un.org account for a test account.
    • Login to the test account and create a meeting there.
    • Share the meeting link with the other parties you would like to conduct your tests with.
      NOTE: There is a 40-minute limit per meeting with free accounts.
  3. Multiple participants test with a corporate Zoom account. If your entity already has Zoom licenses linked to un.org e-mails, you can use those similarly to option (2) but without the 40-minute limit.

 

 

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Connectivity

You can check your connectivity speed by using a tool such as https://fast.com/#
If you see 10 Mbps or higher, your connection strength should be sufficient. Otherwise, depending on the type of event you are joining, please check your connection speed based on the following:

  • For 1:1 video calling:
    • For high-quality video: 600kbps (up/down)
    • For 720p HD video: 1.2Mbps (up/down)
    • For 1080p HD video: 3.8Mbps/3.0Mbps (up/down)
  • For group video calling:
    • For high-quality video: 1.0 Mbps/600kbps (up/down)
    • For 720p HD video: 2.6Mbps/1.8Mbps (up/down)
    • For 1080p HD video: 3.8Mbps/3.0Mbps (up/down)
    • For gallery view receiving: 2.0Mbps (25 views), 4.0Mbps (49 views)
  • For screen sharing only (no video thumbnail): 50-75kbps
  • For screen sharing with video thumbnail: 50-150kbps
  • For audio VoiP: 60-80kbps
  • For Zoom Phone: 60-100kbps

Frequently Asked Questions

How long before the meeting should these tests be conducted?
Ideally, as closer to the meeting start time as possible so that the conditions being tested are as close as possible to the real conditions of the event.

What about tests including the room and interpreters on-site?
Typically, such tests are conducted 60-90 minutes before the event starts. You are strongly urged to participate even if you have participated in a test previously, and to follow the guidance provided by the moderators, including that pertaining to steps that will need to be taken in advance of future meetings (equipment purchase, etc.).

What if I want to conduct tests including the room and interpreters on-site outside of the “60-90 minutes before the event” window?
Due to the capacity related constraints, additional tests conducted by UNOG, outside of the 60-
90 minutes before the event, are not possible. 

Recommended microphones

Unidirectional microphone (Razer Seiren Mini, Rode NT USB Mini, Samson Meteor, Beyerdynamic FOX USB, Elgato Wave 3, Amazon Basics Desktop Mini condenser microphone, Hyper X Solo Cast or similar)

Lapel microphone (Sennheiser ME 4-N cardioid lavalier microphone or similar)

Tech Specs for microphones:

Polar Pattern: Cardioid (directional); Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz; Max SPL: 110dB (THD: 0.5% 1kHz)