DRAC: Digital Recorder Assisted Consecutive. Where have you been all this time?

By Carlota Dalziel

It is the most accurate, advanced consecutive interpretation technique, a revolution in consecutive interpretation. DVTA offered a two-day seminar on DRAC on April 20 and 21 at La Salle University, which was eagerly attended by a group of our members. We were honored to have Esther Navarro Hall from the Monterey Institute of Technology, as our expert speaker, whose bio is most impressive. In the course of one weekend Esther instructed us on the use of this revolutionary method and gave us lots of time to practice our newly acquired skills. The small group allowed for constant interaction between attendees and speaker, plus opportunities for monitored exercises. Esther encouraged the attendees to ask questions at any time throughout her talks. The wide scope of capable interpreters attending enriched our experience. We all came away feeling that an important change had taken place. Our work had become simpler -and vital as it is in a judiciary setting- more accurate.

All that is needed is the “smart pen” and a specially designed notebook. The pen, hardly larger than a regular pen, can be used as an ordinary pen for note taking or as an audio recorder, which makes it a big help in long passages. A stroke of the pen on the note book indicates and identifies the beginning of a passage we have chosen to record. When we wish to hear the play back we merely touch the identified stroke and it spits out the passage to the interpreter through an ear pod she wears. There is no delay and interpretation can proceed at once, as the interpreter repeats what she hears in simultaneous mode. At the end of our assignment the whole session is deleted at the touch of a finger, which rules out any concern over confidentiality.

Widely used in Europe, this smart pen had not found its way to the East Coast yet. It is being used in California and is being taught to student interpreters at MIIS. The benefits DRAC brings seem clear. In the judicial settings, for example, it saves time and eliminates the chance of rendering a long passage in a different register or – worse still- in an inaccurate manner. The fact that note taking is no longer necessary allows the interpreter to give his/her attention fully to listening and to comprehension, resulting in a rendition that is more faithful to the original in every sense. DVTA is proud to have been the first to have brought Esther and her simuI-consec  hybrid to our region. It is to be hoped that this ground breaking technique and technology, in time, will be accepted in every field.