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The Code of Ethics Outlined

Hello mag-anak ko, it seems like forever since I've written!

Ma'am Letty gave me the grand tour of both the Angeli Dei Schools and the Angels Institute of Learning. I truly enjoyed all of the well-mannered children and I want to thank all the teachers who allowed the brief interruption of their classes.

Sir Jun and Ma'am Letty showed me the utmost of hospitality by treating me to lunch and later to a wonderful evening of dinner and karaoke with the RIDE interpreters.

One of the highlights of my visit was the RIDE Sign Language Interpreters' performance at the Philam Life Theater, the "RIDE Around the Globe A Concert in Sign Language 3". What an amazing array of talents you have in RIDE. The time and effort put forth in the production of this show was impressive. My kudos to Mike Potian for his expertise, and all the performers. Perhaps someday I will participate in a future show as well!

From my world, I recently attended a wonderful 3-day interpreters regional conference in Portland, Oregon . Over 600 interpreters from all over the west coast attended. While there, I had the chance to meet and have a chat with Angela Jones, the President of the RID. I shared with her, my experiences with RIDE and she sends her support and well wishes to all of you and looks forward to my continued updates.

Kenneth Sanders with Angela Jones, the President of the RID
Kenneth Sanders with Angela Jones, the President of the RID

I attended many workshops and learned so much. What they say is true: "No matter how long you are in the're never too old to learn!"

My Grandpa used to say, "The day I stop learning the day that I stopped breathing!" Actually, I believe that my grandpa is still learning in heaven!

Onward to the business at hand this month: The Code of Ethics (COE) Outlined .

There are 8 sections to the Interpreters Code of Ethics, these sections are called Tenets. A working interpreter would use these tenets to help him/her to make appropriate choices in the field. I will list them in order with a brief explanation.

These tenets are:

  1. Confidentiality: "Interpreter/transliterator shall keep all assignment-related information strictly confidential."

    This means KEEP your mouth shut! Anything you learn during an assignment is to keep in STRICT confidence, the same as the vow of silence of confession that the Priests must abide by. Think about this: "What would you know, if you weren't there?"

  2. Accuracy: "Interpreter/transliterator shall render the message faithfully, always conveying the content and spirit of the speaker, using language most readily understood by the person(s) whom they serve."

    This means that we must interpret to the communication level of our client, if they are well educated, then we are to match that level, and if they are not, adjust accordingly. Don't try to force your client to understand your signs, it is US that must understand their is their language after all. It is our job to convey the message accurately and understandably, it is NOT our job to show off to an undereducated client that you can sign some "big words". The client will likely smile and nod, and walk away without a clue as to what was said, rather than interrupt and admit they didn't understand. Also, if the client enjoys using profanities, we are to VOICE them completely...even if it is against our morals or tendencies, remember, these are the clients words, NOT yours.

  3. Impartiality: "Interpreter/transliterator shall not counsel, advise or interject personal opinions."

    We are interpreters, not counselors or advocates. Avoid allowing yourself to be put in the position of talking on behalf of your client. Our clients should be empowered to make their OWN choices and decisions...even bad ones. We put ourselves at risk of being responsible in the event that our advice was incorrect. Avoid the temptation to "help" your client beyond our role of conveying the message fully, allows your client to make his or her own choices.

  4. Discretion: "Interpreter/transliterator shall accept assignments using discretion with regards to skill, setting and the consumers involved."

    This means that we interpreters should ONLY accept assignments that we are comfortable doing. For example, if you've recently had a death in the family, accepting a job interpreting for a funeral would NOT be a good idea. Interpreting for situations involving abuse or something else that could cause you to have a memory or flashback should also be avoided. Interpreting for friends is dangerous, as keeping a professional distance is very difficult. Finally, be honest with yourself and know your limits, if you're not REALLY that good yet, don't attempt to take an assignment requiring a high degree of skill. Be humble!

  5. Compensation: "Interpreter/transliterator shall request compensation for services in a professional manner"

    In the Philippines, the profession of interpreting is still growing and new. Most interpreters in the PI are teachers of the deaf, and volunteer interpret as requested. We should be able to request payment for our services. Local laws and established norms should dictate this payment, unless those norms dictate NO payment. As this seems to be the prevalent case in the PI, as it used to be in the U.S.A. , self-advocacy for our profession is called upon. Become involved in the legal process to demand equal access for the Deaf. That the Deaf have the right to effective communication in medical settings, the judicial system and in education. The field of interpreting needs to be looked upon as a true Profession requiring years of specialized education and practice...just like a doctors or lawyers, and NOT be perceived as simply a volunteer helping the "poor deaf people".

  6. Professionalism: "Interpreter/transliterator shall function in a manner appropriate to the situation."

    Act as a professional and you will be treated as a professional. If the situation is outside in September...don't try to interpret in a business suit! and aversely, if the assignment is a professional setting don't show up as if you just came from the barrio gym or smelling like you just arrived from the province on a kalabaw!

  7. Continuing Education: "Interpreter/transliterator shall strive to further knowledge and skills through participation in workshops, professional meetings, interaction with professional colleagues and reading of current literature in the field ."

    If you ever feel that there is nothing more for you to learn, then GET OUT of the field of Interpreting. The most skilled and seasoned interpreter is almost always the first to sign up for the next workshop or class. The next workshop may hold the one "gem" that will shed light and understanding on you next assignment.

  8. Accountability through Certification: "Interpreter/transliterator, by virtue of membership in or certification by RID, Inc. Shall strive to maintain high professional standards in compliance with the Code of Ethics."

Most professions have a certification or licensing of some kind. Teachers, attorneys, truck drivers, nurses and even kitchen workers require some sort of certificate to work. Interpreters also should have an evaluation and certification process and be held accountable to maintain that certification.

Nothing to add here mag-anak ko, except, if we can keep these 8 tenets in mind at all times, we should be able to make the right choice in most situations.

But now that I've said THAT, keep in mind my fellow interpreters, that these are NOT hard fast concrete black and white RULES, these tenets are intended to be used as a guideline to help you make ethical choices in your protect yourself and your clients. Every situation is fluid and involves humans, and humans are notorious for finding ways to bend the scope of black and white...our profession is gray in many ways, and it is our job to find our best shade!

Good luck till next time, I hope this look at the COE has helped!

Next time I'll be writing about how to fix mistakes, oh boy, that could get long...with MY experiences! HAHA!

BY THE WAY: Our mailing address has changed since the last newsletter. My new address is:

Ken Sanders
6329 18th Ave., NE
Seattle, WA 98115

I look forward for continued personal feedback or just friendly "hellos" from all of you! Doesn't have to be about interpreting...just saying Hi! (Smile)

Here's my email: