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Scenario Series: What Would You Do? Scenario # 3

Mar 1, 2022 | Interpreter Education

by: Lisa Hendrickson, CI - NIR Interpreter Coordinator

Continuing this series, we will dive into yet another hypothetical interpreting scenario including an ethical dilemma to ponder.

Previous blogs in this series mention that humans 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. Numerous professions have codes of conduct to assist in guiding its 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 #3 and apply the Tenets/Illustrative Behaviors of the CPC:

Scenario # 3

You are interpreting through an agency for an on-going Graduate-level college course, teaming with a staff interpreter from the college whom you have never worked with before. You discuss your teaming dynamics prior to class, and all goes well for the first class meeting, discussing the syllabus. For the second-class meeting, the professor dives into lecture. Your team starts, and you are attentive and supportive throughout. After switching, your team is completely inattentive during your "on" time.

She checks her phone and sends texts, and misses your cues for needed support. When she is “on” again, the interpreting is inconsistent since she has not followed the lecture, and has missed signs agreed upon between you and the student. You notice the student’s frustration with her throughout the class. When class ends, your team leaves quickly to make it to another assignment, and you agree to debrief before the next class meeting. After she leaves, the student approaches you and tells you that he doesn’t want that interpreter for any future class meetings or any future classes.

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 makes adjustments as needed.

Illustrative Behavior: 2.4 –Request support (e.g., certified deaf interpreters, team members, language facilitators) when needed to fully convey the message or to address exceptional communication.

3.0 Conduct

Tenet: Interpreters conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to the specific interpreting situation.

Illustrative Behavior: 3.1 –Consult with appropriate persons regarding the interpreting situation to determine issues such as placement and adaptations necessary to interpret effectively.

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.

5.0 Respect for Colleagues

Tenet: Interpreters demonstrate respect for colleagues, interns and students of the profession.

Illustrative Behavior: 5.1 –Maintain civility toward colleagues, interns and students.

Illustrative Behavior: 5.3 –Approach colleagues privately to discuss and resolve breaches of ethical or professional conduct through standard conflict resolution methods; file a formal grievance only after such attempts have been unsuccessful or the breaches are harmful or habitual.

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 find other Tenet(s)/Illustrative Behaviors that you think apply to Scenario # 3, please feel free to add that information in the comments section below.

Stay tuned for more interpreting scenarios to come!

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