NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct (2005)



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For the purpose of this document, the following terms are used:

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The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (RID) uphold high standards of professionalism and ethical conduct for interpreters. Embodied in this Code of Professional Conduct (formerly known as the Code of Ethics) are seven tenets setting forth guiding principles, followed by illustrative behaviors.

A code of professional conduct is a necessary component to any profession to maintain standards for the individuals within that profession to adhere. It brings about accountability, responsibility and trust to the individuals that the profession serves. The tenets of this Code of Professional Conduct are to be viewed holistically and as a guide to professional behavior. This document provides assistance in complying with the code. The guiding principles offer the basis upon which the tenets are articulated. The illustrative behaviors are not exhaustive, but are indicative of the conduct that may either conform to or violate a specific tenet or the code as a whole.

When in doubt, the reader should refer to the explicit language of the tenet. If further clarification is needed, questions may be directed to the national office of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc.

This Code of Professional Conduct is sufficient to encompass interpreter roles and responsibilities in every type of situation (e.g., educational, legal, medical). A separate code for each area of interpreting is neither necessary nor advisable.

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The American Deaf community represents a cultural and linguistic group having the inalienable right to full and equal communication and to participation in all aspects of society. Members of the American Deaf community have the right to informed choice and the highest quality interpreting services. Recognition of the communication rights of America’s women, men, and children who are deaf is the foundation of the tenets, principles, and behaviors set forth in this Code of Professional Conduct.

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Voting Protocol

This Code of Professional Conduct was presented through mail referendum to certified interpreters who are members in good standing with the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. and the National Association of the Deaf. The vote was to adopt or to reject.

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Adoption of this Code of Professional Conduct

Interpreters who are members in good standing with the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. and the National Association of the Deaf voted to adopt this Code of Professional Conduct, effective July 1, 2005. This Code of Professional Conduct is a working document that is expected to change over time. The aforementioned members may be called upon to vote, as may be needed from time to time, on the tenets of the code.

The guiding principles and the illustrative behaviors may change periodically to meet the needs and requirements of the RID Ethical Practices System. These sections of the Code of Professional Conduct will not require a vote of the members. However, members are encouraged to recommend changes for future updates.

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Tenets and Guiding Principles

Function of the Guiding Principles

It is the obligation of every interpreter to exercise judgment, employ critical thinking, apply the benefits of practical experience, and reflect on past actions in the practice of their profession. The guiding principles in this document represent the concepts of confidentiality, linguistic and professional competence, impartiality, professional growth and development, ethical business practices, and the rights of participants in interpreted situations to informed choice. The driving force behind the guiding principles is the notion that the interpreter will do no harm.

When applying these principles to their conduct, interpreters remember that their choices are governed by a “reasonable interpreter” standard. This standard represents the hypothetical interpreter who is appropriately educated, informed, capable, aware of professional standards, and fair-minded.

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1.0 Confidentiality


Interpreters adhere to standards of confidential communication.

Guiding Principle:
Interpreters hold a position of trust in their role as linguistic and cultural facilitators of communication. Confidentiality is highly valued by consumers and is essential to protecting all involved.
Each interpreting situation (e.g., elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education, legal, medical, mental health) has a standard of confidentiality. Under the reasonable interpreter standard, professional interpreters are expected to know the general requirements and applicability of various levels of confidentiality. Exceptions to confidentiality include, for example, federal and state laws requiring mandatory reporting of abuse or threats of suicide, or responding to subpoenas.
Illustrative Behavior — Interpreters:
  1. Share assignment-related information only on a confidential and “as-needed” basis (e.g., supervisors, interpreter team members, members of the educational team, hiring entities)
  2. Manage data, invoices, records, or other situational or consumer-specific information in a manner consistent with maintaining consumer confidentiality (e.g., shredding, locked files).
  3. Inform consumers when federal or state mandates require disclosure of confidential information.
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2.0 Professionalism


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

Guiding Principle:
Interpreters are expected to stay abreast of evolving language use and trends in the profession of interpreting as well as in the American Deaf community.
Interpreters accept assignments using discretion with regard to skill, communication mode, setting, and consumer needs. Interpreters possess knowledge of American Deaf culture and deafness-related resources.
Illustrative Behavior — Interpreters:
  1. Provide service delivery regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or any other factor.
  2. Assess consumer needs and the interpreting situation before and during the assignment and make adjustments as needed.
  3. Render the message faithfully by conveying the content and spirit of what is being communicated, using language most readily understood by consumers, and correcting errors discreetly and expeditiously.
  4. Request support (e.g., certified deaf interpreters, team members, language facilitators) when needed to fully convey the message or to address exceptional communication challenges (e.g. cognitive disabilities, foreign sign language, emerging language ability, or lack of formal instruction or language).
  5. Refrain from providing counsel, advice, or personal opinions.
  6. Judiciously provide information or referral regarding available interpreting or community resources without infringing upon consumers’ rights.
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3.0 Conduct


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

Guiding Principle:
Interpreters are expected to present themselves appropriately in demeanor and appearance. They avoid situations that result in conflicting roles or perceived or actual conflicts of interest.
Illustrative Behavior — Interpreters:
  1. Consult with appropriate persons regarding the interpreting situation to determine issues such as placement and adaptations necessary to interpret effectively.
  2. Decline assignments or withdraw from the interpreting profession when not competent due to physical, mental, or emotional factors.
  3. Avoid performing dual or conflicting roles in interdisciplinary (e.g. educational or mental health teams) or other settings.
  4. Comply with established workplace codes of conduct, notify appropriate personnel if there is a conflict with this Code of Professional Conduct, and actively seek resolution where warranted.
  5. Conduct and present themselves in an unobtrusive manner and exercise care in choice of attire.
  6. Refrain from the use of mind-altering substances before or during the performance of duties.
  7. Disclose to parties involved any actual or perceived conflicts of interest.
  8. Avoid actual or perceived conflicts of interest that might cause harm or interfere with the effectiveness of interpreting services.
  9. Refrain from using confidential interpreted information for personal, monetary, or professional gain.
  10. Refrain from using confidential interpreted information for the benefit of personal or professional affiliations or entities.
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4.0 Respect for Consumers


Interpreters demonstrate respect for consumers.

Guiding Principle:
Interpreters are expected to honor consumer preferences in selection of interpreters and interpreting dynamics, while recognizing the realities of qualifications, availability, and situation.
Illustrative Behavior — Interpreters:
  1. Consider consumer requests or needs regarding language preferences, and render the message accordingly (interpreted or transliterated).
  2. Approach consumers with a professional demeanor at all times.
  3. Obtain the consent of consumers before bringing an intern to an assignment.
  4. Facilitate communication access and equality, and support the full interaction and independence of consumers.
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5.0 Respect for Colleagues


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

Guiding Principle:
Interpreters are expected to collaborate with colleagues to foster the delivery of effective interpreting services. They also understand that the manner in which they relate to colleagues reflects upon the profession in general.
Illustrative Behavior — Interpreters:
  1. Maintain civility toward colleagues, interns, and students.
  2. Work cooperatively with team members through consultation before assignments regarding logistics, providing professional and courteous assistance when asked and monitoring the accuracy of the message while functioning in the role of the support interpreter.
  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.
  4. Assist and encourage colleagues by sharing information and serving as mentors when appropriate.
  5. Obtain the consent of colleagues before bringing an intern to an assignment.
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6.0 Business Practices


Interpreters maintain ethical business practices.

Guiding Principle:
Interpreters are expected to conduct their business in a professional manner whether in private practice or in the employ of an agency or other entity. Professional interpreters are entitled to a living wage based on their qualifications and expertise. Interpreters are also entitled to working conditions conducive to effective service delivery.
Illustrative Behavior — Interpreters:
  1. Accurately represent qualifications, such as certification, educational background, and experience, and provide documentation when requested.
  2. Honor professional commitments and terminate assignments only when fair and justifiable grounds exist.
  3. Promote conditions that are conducive to effective communication, inform the parties involved if such conditions do not exist, and seek appropriate remedies.
  4. Inform appropriate parties in a timely manner when delayed or unable to fulfill assignments.
  5. Reserve the option to decline or discontinue assignments if working conditions are not safe, healthy, or conducive to interpreting.
  6. Refrain from harassment or coercion before, during, or after the provision of interpreting services.
  7. Render pro bono services in a fair and reasonable manner.
  8. Charge fair and reasonable fees for the performance of interpreting services and arrange for payment in a professional and judicious manner.
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7.0 Professional Development


Interpreters engage in professional development.

Guiding Principle:
Interpreters are expected to foster and maintain interpreting competence and the stature of the profession through ongoing development of knowledge and skills.
Illustrative Behavior — Interpreters:
  1. Increase knowledge and strengthen skills through activities such as:
    • pursuing higher education;
    • attending workshops and conferences;
    • seeking mentoring and supervision opportunities;
    • participating in community events; and
    • engaging in independent studies.
  2. Keep abreast of laws, policies, rules, and regulations that affect the profession.
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Page © Doug Stringham, Utah Valley University; revised 2020. . APA citation form: National Association of the Deaf and Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. (2005). Code of Professional Conduct.