Q: What is the role of the interpreter?
A. Sign language interpreters are bound by a Code of Professional Conduct that has been established to protect the rights of all consumers of interpreting services: individuals who are hearing, deaf, or hard of hearing. This Code sets standards of professional behavior and practices for interpreters that ensure confidentiality, discretion and impartiality in conveying the messages of all consumers involved.
It is virtually impossible to be both an active participant in an interpreted interaction and a neutral communication bridge between the hearing, deaf and hard of hearing persons involved. For this reason, it is not within the realm of the interpreter’s role to advise, edit, advocate, teach, or participate while in the interpreting situation. The interpreter must faithfully transmit the spirit and content of any speaker or signer, leaving the right to control the communication interactions with the consumers: hearing, deaf or hard of hearing.
A primary tenet of the professional interpreter’s professional code is that all information conveyed during any interaction where the interpreter works is to remain strictly confidential. Revealing information outside the context of the interpreted situation remains the sole right of the consumers involved.
Because the ultimate goal of providing interpreter services is to provide equal access for all interactions between deaf and hearing persons, the interpreter is responsible for conveying all comments made by all consumers involved. This means that the interpreter will sign any comments voiced by hearing consumers and will voice any comments signed by deaf or hard of hearing consumers without exception.