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The interpreter’s Code of Ethics

A sign language interpreter and an interpreter for the deaf-blind is considered to be anyone who has the corresponding accreditation obtained through formal training programmes or interpreter and interpreter-guide associations and/or entities of the deaf and deaf-blind associations or professional qualifications.

The Code of Ethics (or Code of Professional Conduct) below is a requirement for all professional sign language interpreters in Spain. The internal regulations governing the possible violations of the Code of Ethics also apply to this group of professionals. (Pending development.)

Remember to look for your own local sign language associations to find the Code of Ethics that applies in your area.

Code of Ethics

Sign language interpreters/interpreters for the deaf-blind will always act professionally and assume their responsibilities as such. In the course of their work, therefore:

  1. They will remain impartial at all times and, with their actions and behaviour, reflect the neutrality that corresponds to their task, avoiding any procedure that presupposes protection, advice or control. Likewise, they will not assume any role that is not pertinent to the profession, and will maintain an appropriate professional distance.
    Interpreters should have a neutral and acceptable personal presence for each situation and one which implies no connotative meaning.

  2. They will have the utmost respect for the confidential nature of their work. This may only be broken if they are required by a court to be appear as witnesses or as defendants.

  3. They will interpret the entirety of what is being expressed so that the result adheres faithfully to the original message. They will perform their work seeking the most comprehensive communication possible and will adapt for each case according to the communicative abilities of the users.

  4. They will be aware of their professional capacities and, therefore, will decline any service they deem to be beyond their abilities. If they cannot renounce their services, they will inform the users and/or the contracting party of said situation in advance.

  5. They will uphold the code of ethics established by the profession, by which:

  • They will maintain a flexible attitude in situations as interpreters and interpreters for the deaf-blind
  • They will respect the dignity of the users and ensure their own.
  • They will avoid gaining any personal benefit and will not express their personal and/or academic merits
  • They can decline the provision of their service if their personal scale of values so demands.
  • Their training as interpreters must be ongoing, constant and regularly updated.

    In the context of performing a service as an interpreter, professionals must:

  • State the conditions required for carrying out the work appropriately, and for the profession in general, if necessary.
  • Be subject to the established rates, informing the contracting party of these in advance, and will avoid entering into unfair competition with other professionals.
  • Will provide, wherever possible, a replacement if they can justifiably not perform the task themselves.
  • Be duly prepared.
  • Set aside a reasonable amount of time to carry out their work.
  • Observe the rules of punctuality.
  • Have the right to know the identity of their colleagues and that of the users if possible.
  • Ensure the reputation and prestige of the profession, maintaining at all times a critical, respectful and supportive attitude with respect to users and colleagues.

This code of conduct is regulated by the corresponding internal regulations. (Pending development.)

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Introduction to Catalan Sign Language: Speaking with Your Hands and Hearing with Your Eyes

Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona

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