If the most you can say in Spanish is “taco” and your German is “null,” help may be as close as your cellphone.
One of the world’s largest interpreting companies, Language Line Services of Monterey, has teamed with AT&T to let cellphone owners contact professional interpreters 24 hours a day, seven days a week by dialing *4.
Under the new service, cellphone users who subscribe to AT&T On Demand Interpreter pay $9.99 per month plus $2.99 per minute per call to get access to interpreters who speak more than 170 languages.
The service is promoted for use by government workers who need to communicate with non-English speakers during emergencies or for businesses who need to communicate with customers or clients who don’t speak English.
Language Line, which employs more than 6,000 interpreters, said it plans to hire about 2,000 additional interpreters this year to keep up with a recent surge in demand for interpreting services.
“Language access in the U.S. has never been more important than it is today, as the country’s growing ethnic minorities are projected to become a majority by 2042,” said Louis F. Provenzano Jr., president and chief executive officer of Language Line Services.