Scenario Series: What Would You Do? Scenario # 1

Dec 7, 2021 | Interpreter Education

by: Lisa Hendrickson, CI - NIR Interpreter Coordinator

In our daily lives, we are often faced with ethical dilemmas—some big, some small—that we must negotiate through and/or around. For these daily dilemmas, we have our beliefs and values to guide us, cultivated as we have navigated the passing years.

Ethical dilemmas in the “workplace” are certainly no exception to this tendency, and many fields have additional tools to assist in the decision-making process. Many professional fields have codes of conduct to assist in guiding their members toward the best possible decisions; the field of interpreting has the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct (CPC) for this purpose.

For this series, we will look at a hypothetical interpreting scenario, and then investigate which Tenets/Illustrative Behaviors of the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct (CPC) may help us decide the best possible course of action. Exploring these scenarios, and applying the CPC, can help us prepare for situations that may arise in our daily work.

Remember, there are no wrong answers! Let’s take a look at Scenario #1 and apply the Tenets/Illustrative Behaviors of the CPC:


Scenario #1

Police officers were called to a group home after a Deaf woman had a violent outburst during a group activity. As the officers and the staff at the home were trying to calm her down, she indicated that she should just kill herself since everyone thinks she is just a nuisance. Due to her possible threat of suicide, they immediately transported her to a mental health facility for her safety. You are hired to interpret at the mental health facility for this Deaf woman. When you arrive, the Deaf woman is rather despondent, which makes you wonder whether she has been medicated, or if this is her normal demeanor. During most interactions with staff and other patients, she responds only, “yes”, or by nodding her head, even when the questions are Wh- questions. The doctor finally calls the patient to be seen, and seems put off by your presence in the room. The first question she asks the Deaf patient is, “Can you read my lips?”, to which the Deaf patient responds by nodding her head. The doctor then says, “So, you understand me?”, and again is answered with a nod. The doctor then turns to you and indicates that you are not needed, and asks you to leave the room.


Let’s now look at the CPC to see which Tenets/Illustrative Behaviors may help us decide how to proceed if faced with a similar situation:


2.0 Professionalism


Tenet: Interpreters possess the professional skills and knowledge required for the specific interpreting situation.

Illustrative Behavior:2.2 –Assess consumer needs and the interpreting situation before and during the assignment and make adjustments as needed.


4.0 Respect for Consumers


Tenet: Interpreters demonstrate respect for Consumers.

Illustrative Behavior: 4.2 –Approach consumers with a professional demeanor at all times.

Illustrative Behavior: 4.4 –Facilitate communication access and equality, and support the full interaction and independence of consumers.


These are just a few possible examples of Tenets/Illustrative Behaviors that may help an interpreter decide how best to proceed if faced with a similar situation to the above scenario. If you can find another Tenet/Illustrative Behavior that you think applies to Scenario # 1, please feel free to add that information in the comments section below.


Stay tuned for more interpreting scenarios to come!

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