Ethics perspective of The Community Interpreter® International taught by Gaucha TI

The real world, where the interpreters Gaucha TI teaches will interpret, is a complex world.  Interpreters will likely be called on to work in many different areas of interpreting, not just in healthcare. Interpreters move from one area of interpreting to another based on market needs and opportunities, and they need to be prepared to do so without too many complications such as contradictory codes of professional conduct.

In Oregon it is not unusual for interpreters who are not court-certified to interpret for legal proceedings such as attorney-client interviews, criminal justice or law enforcement agencies, administrative agencies, as well as boards, commissions, or licensing bodies. Insurance investigators frequently hire non-court certified interpreters to contact LEP claimants and take their recorded statements describing their loss and injuries. This is not an endorsement of the practice, but a description of the realities. In addition, and unawares to the interpreter, healthcare appointments may be part of ongoing or future litigation. Accordingly, it is important for interpreters to be prepared to render their services in a wide array of settings.

Victims of crime, defendants, and inmates frequently suffer injuries and/or need ongoing mental health treatment. Their medical records become part of discovery and may be admitted into evidence. Independent Medical Evaluations take place during a personal injury lawsuit or workers’ compensation claim. The independent medical examination is often a tactic used by the opposing side to get a doctor to discredit the patient. Physicians who perform these exams are paid by insurance companies and often show bias in favor of the insurance companies for whom they work. Accordingly, the interpreter must maintain complete impartiality and never engage in patient advocacy or accept any gifts from anyone since this would totally taint the interpreter’s neutrality.

Medical interpreters also work in school settings. At an Individualized Education Plan meeting (IEP), many people get together to plan how to help a child succeed in school. Many issues, including healthcare issues, are covered, so medical interpreters are often the ones hired. Interpreters are also called to interpret between school personnel and LEP parents. Sometimes these meetings have a bearing on current or future legal proceedings such as truancy or child abuse court cases.

In all these settings, providers appreciate interpreters who respect the people they are there to interpret for enough to refrain from participating themselves, and who limit their participation to interpreting. This is called Communicative Autonomy. The Community Interpreter® International’s ethical principles are reflective of the code of professional conduct found in ASTM F2089-15 Standard Practice for Language Interpreting, as well as Oregon certified court interpreters and RID-NAD sign language interpreters. TCIi ethics and standards allow interpreters to transition smoothly from one setting to another providing useful strategies for addressing challenging issues.

TCii_Ethics and Standards

This document reflects the ethics taught in The Community Interpreter® International. They are consistent with the ethics in the ASTM Standard Practice for Language Interpreting F2089-15 developed consensually by end users, interpreting service providers and trainers of both spoken and sign language representing all areas of interpreting such as healthcare, judiciary, law enforcement and conference interpreting.

TCii ethics and standards differ from the National Standards for Interpreters in Health Care produced by the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) and its National Code of Ethics for Interpreters in Health Care in that TCIi ethics does not teach interpreters to accept gifts (see gifts from patients, page 21 in the National Code of Ethics) because today’s gift is tomorrow’s expectation. Neither does it promote advocacy by the interpreter (see ethics principle 7, page 19 of the National Code of Ethics). The TCIi code of ethics is in accordance with Oregon Law ORS 413.550, in which the intent is the intent is “to assure that persons with LEP get health care services that are based on accurate and complete information”. (see Health Care interpreter Laws on this page).

Participants in The Community Interpreter® International learn about the NCIHC code of ethics and Standards of Practice,  the IMIA code of ethics and the CHIA Standards to prepare them for both national healthcare interpreter certification exams. The NCIHC code is then compared to other codes of ethics for court interpreting, interpreting in workers compensation settings, or interpreting in the State of Washington. This allows participants to use the appropriate code applicable to each situation.

In addition, on this page Gaucha TI provides links to other pertinent codes of ethics for interpreters in Oregon and Washington and has some comparative analyses. When participants from other fields of interpreting have attended the class, Helen Eby has invited them to provide a comparative analysis of the ethics of their field of interpreting and the ethics studied in class. Also, when potential employers are invited to the class, participants are invited to discuss ethical challenges they encounter on the field.