What Is the Interpreter’s Code of Ethics?

interpreters code of ethics

What Is the Interpreter’s Code of Ethics?

Contrary to popular belief, knowledge of more than one language is not the only requirement for a good interpreter. A person needs to have many additional traits to become a competent and effective interpreter. One of the things that make a professional interpreter stand out is the interpreter’s code of ethics that they follow.


Why Is There a Need for an Interpreter’s Code of Ethics?

A lot of responsibility falls on the shoulders of an interpreter when they are interpreting between two parties that do not speak a common language. Since the two parties are unable to understand each other on their own, it is up to the interpreter to ensure that both of them can communicate with each other seamlessly. It is the interpreter’s job not to let any miscommunications arise during interpretation.

Interpreters work with many types of people belonging to all kinds of industries. Often, they also provide their services in extremely high-stakes situations, such as -million-dollar business deals between organizations, acquisitions, and mergers. Sometimes, the stakes are even higher! Medical interpreters that enable communication between doctors and patients and interpreters that work with emergency response teams are a perfect example of this.

With so much on the line, an interpreter has to be extremely alert and responsible when they are operating. The two (or more) parties who do not speak a common language in these scenarios depend on the interpreter to communicate with each other. The interpreter has to carry the entire weight of providing accurate translations and removing miscommunications to ensure all concerned parties understand each other perfectly.

Thus, an interpreter’s job is earnest in nature. A good interpreter realizes the gravity of their job and acts responsibly on the clock. They also follow the interpreter’s code of ethics to perform their job, efficiently and effectively.


What is the Interpreter’s Code of Ethics?

There are a host of different guidelines to follow in the interpreter’s code of ethics. The first and foremost of these is maintaining their client’s confidentiality.


Maintaining Client’s Confidentiality

A certified interpreter always maintains client confidentiality. Clients often have to discuss sensitive personal information with another party and in such scenarios, they should be able to trust the interpreter to keep this information private and not reveal it to any third party.

For example, a limited English proficiency (LEP) patient that uses an interpreter to share details of their personal health information with their doctor should not have to worry about this information getting leaked to another business or organization. The doctor follows the Hippocratic Oath to maintain doctor-patient confidentiality, so the patient does not have to worry about the doctor revealing their information or using it otherwise. Similarly, the interpreter’s code of ethics prevents the interpreter from revealing this information. Both the doctor and the interpreter comply with HIPAA regulations to ensure the confidentiality of the personal health information of the patient.

Similarly, if a person wants to ask their lawyer for legal advice, they have the right to keep everything they share private and confidential. United States law grants them the right to attorney-client privilege to refuse to disclose details of their communication with their lawyer and to prevent the lawyer from doing so as well. The same principle carries forward in cases where the client requires an interpreter to facilitate communication with their lawyer. The Interpreter’s code of ethics instructs the interpreter to uphold attorney-client privilege and keep their information confidential.

A good interpreter always keeps client information private and confidential no matter in which industry they are operating. In business, the interpreter maintains confidentiality so as not to leak valuable trade secrets or insider information. No matter the reason you are hiring an interpreter, you should never have to worry about the details of the conversation leaking to any external party.

There is one aspect to this confidentiality that clients of interpreters tend to overlook. The interpreter can never disclose details of the conversations they facilitate after they have interpreted them, even to repeat customers. Thus, if you have multiple recurring assignments with the same interpreter, you should not ask them to recall details of the previous interpretation session. The interpreter refuses to do so, as it violates their code of ethics.


Not Participating in the Conversation

Another important aspect of the Interpreter’s code of ethics is to not personally participate in the parties’ conversation. The sole reason for the interpreter’s presence is to facilitate communication between you and the other party; a good interpreter never offers their opinion or otherwise adds to the conversation while on the job. This allows them to interpret objectively. Thus, you should never ask your interpreter for their opinion when they are interpreting for you.

Even if the interpreter does not personally agree with what the speaker is saying, they interpret their words verbatim (word-for-word). This enables seamless communication and ensures that both parties understand each other perfectly. Do not be upset with the choice of words used by your interpreter – they are merely conveying what the other party said in their exact words.

The impersonal nature with which the interpreters conduct their business might be odd to some, but it is vital to the quality of service they provide. By distancing themselves from the conversation, an interpreter can perform their job extremely effectively and minimize the risk of miscommunications in the process.

Do You Require an Interpreter?

If you require any form of interpretation service, choose Acutrans. As an established interpretation and translation agency, we offer professional and certified interpreters for over 200 languages and across a wide variety of industries.

At Acutrans, we value the privacy of our clients. This is why all of our interpreters follow the code of conduct to a T. With a strict no-tolerance policy for breaking the interpreter’s code of conduct, we ensure that all of our interpreters maintain our client’s confidentiality at all times.


Contact us today to get a free interpretation services quote