Social Affairs Forum: our interpreters in action

© Lyon Metropole – Photo by Jérémy Cuenin

The Social Affairs Forum, organized by Lyon Metropole in collaboration with Eurocities, took place in Lyon from November 8 to 10, 2023. The event brought together elected representatives, directors of social services and representatives of European institutions to discuss the social challenges facing towns and cities, and share the solutions they are implementing.

The forum was organized around three themes:

New forms of social vulnerability: this theme prompted discussion of the challenges posed by new forms of social vulnerability, such as energy poverty, digital insecurity and mental health.

The inclusive city: this theme provided an opportunity to reflect on how to build inclusive cities, where everyone can find their place, whatever their social situation or origin.

Local social policies: this theme enabled participants from different towns and cities to share their experiences in terms of social policies.

The forum provided an opportunity to present the many innovative initiatives implemented by towns and cities to meet social challenges.

It was also an opportunity to remind everyone of the importance of local social policies in building a fairer, more inclusive society. Participants stressed the need for greater cooperation between towns and cities to share experiences and good practices.

To make sure that all guests could communicate effectively with each other, Birdwell was tasked with covering the event.

Covering the event

Over a period of three days, our interpreters provided simultaneous interpretation during the presentations, from English to French and from French to English. They worked in booths in three plenary sessions, and covered other sessions such as workshops, round tables, meetings and tours.

During the plenary sessions, interpreters translated speeches by participants from France, Scotland, Denmark, Spain, Austria, Finland and Germany.

Interprètes Birdwell en cabine

What is booth interpreting?

Booth interpreting is a complex activity requiring a high level of linguistic, technical and intercultural skill.

The interpreter sits in a soundproof booth, with headphones on. They listen to the English speaker and translate the words into spoken French (and vice versa), in real time. The interpreter must be able to understand spoken English quickly and accurately, translate it into French fluently and naturally, and take into account the context of the conversation.

Booth interpreting is generally used in formal contexts, such as the social affairs forum, conferences, meetings or public events. Interpreters must be able to adapt to different styles of discourse, and different levels of linguistic competence on the part of the speakers.


The event went off without a hitch, thanks to meticulous planning and good coordination between the Birdwell team, its technical partner and Lyon Metropole.

Birdwell was able to provide a service that met Lyon Metropole’s expectations, thereby ensuring that all those present were able to understand each other.

The Birdwell team would like to thank Lyon Metropole for this new opportunity to work together, and for the unwavering trust they have placed in us for several years.

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