The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Code of Ethics (1965)


Recognizing the unique position of an interpreter in the life of a deaf person, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf sets forth the following principles of ethical behavior which will protect both the deaf person and the interpreter in a profession that exists to serve those with a communication handicap.

In the pursuit of this profession in a democratic society it is recognized that through the medium of interpreters, deaf persons can be granted equality with hearing persons in the matter of their right of communication.

It is further recognized that the basic system for self-regulation governing the professional conduct of the interpreter is the same as that governing the ethical conduct of any business or profession with the addition of stronger emphasis on the high ethical characteristics of the interpreter's role in helping an oftentime misunderstood group of people.

The standards of ethical practice set forth below encourage the highest standards of conduct and outline basic principles for the guidance of the interpreter.

Code of Ethics

  1. The interpreter shall be a person of high moral character, honest, conscientious, trustworthy, and of emotional maturity. He shall guard confidential information and not betray confidences which have been entrusted to him.
  2. The interpreter shall maintain an impartial attitude during the course of his interpreting avoiding interjecting his own views unless he is asked to do so by a party involved.
  3. The interpreter shall interpret, faithfully and to the best of his ability, always conveying the thought, intent, and spirit of the speaker. He shall remember the limits of his particular function and not go beyond his responsibility.
  4. The interpreter shall recognize his own level of proficiency and use discretion in accepting assignments, seeking for the assistance of other interpreters when necessary.
  5. The interpreter shall adopt a conservative manner of dress upholding the dignity of the profession and not drawing undue attention to himself.
  6. The interpreter shall use discretion in the matter of accepting compensation for services and be willing to provide services in situations where funds are not available. Arrangements should be made on a professional basis for adequate remuneration in court cases comparable to that provided for interpreters of foreign languages.
  7. The interpreter shall never encourage deaf persons to seek legal other decisions in their favor merely because the interpreter is sympathetic to the handicap of deafness.
  8. In the case of legal interpreting, the interpreter shall inform the court when the level of literacy of the deaf person involved is such that literal interpretation is not possible and the interpreter is having to grossly paraphrase and restate both what is said to the deaf person and what he is saying to the court.
  9. The interpreter shall attempt to recognize the various types of assistance needed by the deaf and to do his best to meet the particular need. Those who do not understand the language of signs may require assistance through written communication. Those who understand manual communication may be assisted by means of translating (rendering the original presentation verbatim), or interpreting (paraphrasing, defining, and explaining, or making known the will of the speaker without regard to the original language used).
  10. Recognizing his need for professional improvement, the interpreter will join with professional colleagues for the purpose of sharing new knowledge and developments, to seek to understand the implications of deafness and the deaf person's particular needs, broaden his education and knowledge of life, and develop both his expressiveand his receptive skills in interpreting and translating.
  11. The interpreter shall seek to uphold the dignity and purity of the language of signs. He shall also maintain a readiness to learn and to accept new signs, if these are necessary to understanding.
  12. The interpreter shall take the responsibility of educating the public regarding the deaf whenever possible recognizing that many misunderstandings arise because of the general lack of public knowledge in the area of deafnessand communication of the deaf.

Expectation of ethical decision making

Additionally, "Interpreting for Deaf People" encouraged students to inform their practice with ethical decision making and a working knowledge of the new Code:

"Code of Ethics. Every student should become thoroughly familiar with the Code of Ethics of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). Toward this purpose, the instructor should require the students to study the Code and to pass both written and oral tests to show familiarity with the standards set forth" (p. 118).

Learn more

For additional perspectives on the development, institution, and evolution of the RID's codes of ethical behavior, see also

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Page © Doug Stringham, Utah Valley University; revised 2021. . APA citation form: Quigley, S. P. (1965). Interpreting for Deaf people: A report of a workshop on interpreting; Governor Baxter State School for the Deaf, Portland, Maine, July 7–27, 1965. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Vocational Rehabilitation Administration. Get citation help from Scribbr.