Wideotłumacz [Videointerpreter] is an innovative idea, which allows deaf people to go to different kinds of institutions at any time, without being obligated to have an interpreter with them.
Wideotłumacz is a service of the Polish Deaf Association – says Piotr Kowalski, project manager. From the technical point of view we have two interpreters, which from 8am till 6pm, Monday to Friday and sometimes in the weekends, sit in our head quarter, ready to answer the phone. People from the institutions which joined our program can call at any moment and ask for translation using videocalls or a computer with camera and microphone. The company or public office doesn’t have to hire an interpreter just for themselves, one interpreter from our association can serve many places at the same time. There are not so many calls, I have to say, our interpreters have no need to complain for painful hands because they have been using the sign language too much. But every day there are some, shorter or longer, for important or minor issues. Once I’ve seen a 1,5h conversation with a bank. It was so long because the client was super-happy that finally he could get information. It was cool, equal, he could ask about anything he wanted.
Convincing banks and other big companies or institutions to use Wideotłumacz service is one of the biggest success of Piotr and his team. But beside successes there are also failures.
Our failure is the fact that we still haven’t managed to convince the government that we need a24h translation center, above all with the 112 emergency number, so Deaf are able to get in touch for any kind of help. When we manage, we will be able to give our service freely, to everybody. Deaf will be able to call any place, even their aunt, which is not deaf.
And this is a real difference, tangible changing the world for better.
I’ve been a scout for many years. The founder of scouting, Robert Baden Powell, told us to leave this world better than we found it and that’s what I’m trying to do. Wideotłumacz is a real change. If Cristina and John can use Wideotłumacz, their life will be easier. Or maybe even not easier, but just as any other. They may still be frustrated trying to get some issues solved in the office, but they will be frustrated as any person who can talk to the officer, and this is important. Equality, as simple as that.