Description: The sign language interpreting profession in the United States has seen several different interpreting models that impose limitations on the actual fluidity of our function as sign language interpreters. Interpreters often have to defend their decisions by emphasizing they had to “step outside their role” to justify their ethical decisions when their decisions were in compliance with the RID-NAD’s Code of Professional Conduct (CPC). The real problem lies with the fact we are still uncomfortable about discussing and justifying our ethical decisions. The CPC’s preamble is based on the concept that interpreters should do no harm but there are conflicting perspectives between the Deaf community and interpreters of what harm entails. Recognition of your own positionality in an interpreted event is key as it is your unique extralinguistic knowledge, which includes morals and values that influence how you make your ethical decisions. There are some tools that guide us through those decisions that are appropriate to the situation and the consumers involved. The ultimate question is how you proceed with the decision-making process that may impact the Deaf consumers’ experience. It is essential to have an open, honest dialogue with Deaf consumers about ethical decisions to gain their perspective. The same is true for interpreter colleagues to making conversations with each other matter with the aim of minimizing horizontal violence.
About Naomi Sheneman
Naomi Sheneman, Ph.D. & CDI, has been working professionally in the interpreting profession since 2000 in various roles. She is currently a freelance consultant, researcher, educator, and interpreter. Naomi recently completed her Ph.D. in Interpretation from Gallaudet University. Her dissertation study focused on the impact of extralinguistic knowledge on interpreters’ work. In addition, Naomi co-developed the ASL-English Interpreting Diagnostic Assessment Rubrics, co-authored a case study of hearing and Deaf interpreters’ work in an international conference involving several sign languages, and published a study on Deaf interpreters’ ethics.