The use of technology as a cost-cutting exercise

by Rita McDade

(English version)

You know how technology changes over time, and the Sign Language Community has seen changes through the use of faxes, text messaging and online video telephony? These are all changes that have had an impact on the Signing community, and it seems that, more recently, there is a growth in the use of on-line interpreting services.

Technology can be a positive thing, but I have some concerns about it. On-line interpreting and video-telephony can be really effective if used properly, but it concerns me that there has been a push towards using it more widely and I’ve observed how this has become more prevalent especially in the context of a time when governments are cutting back on expenditure to save money. The reductions in spending are affecting the business world as well, many companies are laying off staff and other businesses have closed down completely.

It struck me, in the context of using technology and saving money, that there are some people undertaking a lot of air travel, internationally, in Europe, America, Australia, Africa and I wonder why, especially when people can use video-conferencing and on-line technology, I wonder why these aren’t being used more often? It seems that there are professionals travelling back and forth, and yes, there are some journeys that are necessary, but there are other situations where the use of video-conferencing would be appropriate, so why isn’t the technology being used in the same way? It would be value for money and it would save people from having jet lag and prevent them from catching colds or being unwell after a long flight! There’s less need for as much air travel if video-conferencing or on line facilities are used, it makes sense.

What I’m wondering is, why when there’s a push to use these technologies for the Signing Community, when the justification for using on-line communication is that it is cheaper, saving money and how interpreters are expensive and so on and so on, why are the same lines of reasoning not being applied to travelling to international events and the use of air travel for business purposes? Yes, there are times when it is necessary to travel abroad, but there are many occasions when video-conferencing would be more appropriate. If new technology is good enough for the Signing Community, then it should be good enough for the people undertaking all the air travel, the same arguments can be applied to both, yet this seems to be inconsistent.