The purpose of the Code of Ethics is to provide
guidance for interpreters, and in so doing, to ensure quality of service
for all persons involved. Adherence to the following tenets are essential
for maintaining national standards; professional discretion must be exercised
at all times.
ASSOCIATION OF VISUAL LANGUAGE INTERPRETERS
The Association of Visual Language Interpreters
of Canada (AVLIC) expects its members to maintain high standards of professional
conduct in their capacity and identity as an interpreter. Members are
required to abide by the Code of Ethics and follow the Guidelines for
Professional Conduct as a condition of membership in the organization.
This document articulates ethical principles, values, and standards of
conduct to guide all members of AVLIC in their pursuit of professional
practice. It is intended to provide direction to interpreters for ethical
and professional decision-making in their day-to-day work. The Code of
Ethics and Guidelines for Professional Conduct is the mechanism by which
the public is protected in the delivery of service.
VALUES UNDERLYING THE CODE OF ETHICS &
GUIDELINES FOR PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT AVLIC values:
- Professional accountability: Accepting
responsibility for professional decisions and actions.
- Professional competence: Committing
to provide quality professional service throughout one's practice.
- Non-discrimination: Approaching
professional service with respect and cultural sensitivity.
- Integrity in professional relationships:
Dealing honestly and fairly with consumers and colleagues.
- Integrity in business practices:
Dealing honestly and ethically in all business practices.
Members are to understand that each of these
core values and accompanying sections are to be considered when making
ethical and professional decisions in their capacity and identity as an
interpreter. These values are of equal weight and importance.
Code of Ethics and Guidelines
for Professional Conduct
1.0 PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY: Interpreters
accept responsibility for all professional decisions made and actions
- 1.1.1 Members will respect the
privacy of consumers and hold in confidence all information obtained
in the course of professional service. Members may be released from
this obligation only with their consumers' authorization or when ordered
- 1.1.2 Where
necessary, a member may exchange pertinent information with a colleague
in order to provide consistent quality of service. This will be done
in a manner that protects the information and the consumers.
- 1.1.3 Members need to be aware
that other professional codes of conduct may impact upon their work.
In such circumstances, members will make appropriate professional decisions
and conduct themselves in a manner befitting the setting and the profession.
1.2 Professional Conduct
Members will hold the needs of consumers primary when making professional
- 1.2.2 Members shall recognize that
all work undertaken by them on an individual basis, whether pro bono
or paid, will ultimately reflect the integrity of themselves and of
- 1.2.3 Members shall conduct themselves
in a professional manner at all times. They shall not badger or coerce
individuals or agencies to use their professional services.
Members shall take into account the limitations of their abilities,
knowledge and the resources available to them prior to accepting work.
They will remove themselves from a given setting when they realize an
inability to provide professional service.
- 1.2.5 Members must be aware of
personal circumstances or conflict of interest that might interfere
with their effectiveness. They will refrain from conduct that can lead
to substandard performance and/or harm to anyone including themselves
- 1.2.6 Members are accountable to
AVLIC and to their local chapter affiliate for their professional and
ethical conduct. Further, members are responsible to discuss and resolve,
in a professional manner, issues arising from breaches of ethical or
professional conduct on the part of individual colleagues after they
are observed. In the case where these breaches are potentially harmful
to others or chronic, and attempts to resolve the issue have not been
successful, such conduct should be reported to AVLIC and/or their local
chapter affiliate in a manner directed by the appropriate grievance
1.3 Scope of Practice
- 1.3.1 Members will refrain from
using their professional role to perform other functions that lie beyond
the scope of an interpreting assignment and the parameters of their
professional duties. They will not counsel, advise, or interject personal
- 1.3.2 When functioning as part
of a professional team (e.g., education, legal, medical and mental health
settings) it is understood that members will limit their expertise to
interpretation. In such settings, it may be appropriate for members
to comment on the overall effectiveness of communication, the interpreting
process and to suggest appropriate resources and referrals. This should
be done only within the context of the professional team.
Members will refrain from manipulating work situations for personal
benefit or gain. When working as independent contractors, members may
promote their professional services within the scope of their practice.
When working under the auspices of an agency or other employer, it is
not ethical for the members to promote their professional services independent
of the agency or employer.
1.4 Integrity of Service Members will
demonstrate sound professional judgment and accept responsibility for
their decisions. Members will make every attempt to avoid situations that
constitute a real or perceived conflict of interest. Members will ensure
there is full disclosure to all parties should their ancillary interest
be seen as a real or perceived conflict of interest.
2.0 PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCE: Interpreters
provide the highest possible quality service through all aspects of their
2.1 Qualifications to Practice: Members
will possess the knowledge and skills to support accurate and appropriate
interpretation. It is recognized that members work in a range of settings
and with a variety of consumers. This demands that members be adept at
meeting the linguistic needs of consumers, the cultural dynamics of each
situation, and the spirit and content of the discourse.
2.2 Faithfulness of Interpretation
Every interpretation shall be faithful to and render exactly the message
of the source text. A faithful interpretation should not be confused with
a literal interpretation. The fidelity of an interpretation includes an
adaptation to make the form, the tone, and the deeper meaning of the source
text felt in the target language and culture.
2.3 Accountability for Professional
Members will accept full responsibility for the quality of their own
work and will refrain from making inaccurate statements regarding their
competence, education, experience or certification.
- 2.3.2 Members
are responsible for properly preparing themselves for the work contracted.
- 2.3.3 Members
will accept contracts for work only after determining they have
the appropriate qualifications and can remain neutral throughout the
2.4 Ongoing Professional Development
- 2.4.1 Members
will incorporate current theoretical and applied knowledge, enhance
that knowledge through continuing education throughout their professional
careers and will strive for AVLIC certification.
- 2.4.2 Members
will aim to be self-directed learners, pursuing educational opportunities
which are relevant to their professional practice. This could include
but is not limited to peer review, collegial consultation, mentoring
and regular feedback regarding specific areas of skill development.
3.0 NON-DISCRIMINATION: Interpreters
approach professional services with respect and cultural sensitivity towards
3.1 Non-discrimination Members will
respect the individuality, the right to self-determination, and the autonomy
of the people with whom they work. They will not discriminate based on
ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, personal
beliefs and practices, social status or any other factor.
3.2 Communication Preferences Members
will respect and use the form of communication preferred by those deaf
and hard of hearing consumers for whom they provide service.
3.3 Deaf Interpreters The services
of a Deaf interpreter may be required when working with individuals who
use regional sign dialects, non-standard signs, foreign sign languages,
and those with emerging language use. They may also be used with individuals
who have disabling conditions that impact on communication. Members will
recognize the need for a Deaf interpreter and will ensure their inclusion
as a part of the professional interpreting team.
4.0 INTEGRITY IN PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS:
Interpreters deal honestly and fairly with consumers and colleagues while
establishing and maintaining professional boundaries.
4.1 Professional Relationships: Members
shall understand the difference between professional and social interactions.
They will establish and maintain appropriate boundaries between themselves
and consumers. Members will assume responsibility to ensure relationships
with all parties involved are reasonable, fair and professional.
Members shall remain neutral, impartial, and objective. They will refrain
from altering a message for political, religious, moral, or philosophical
reasons, or any other biased or subjective consideration.
- 4.2.2 Should a member not be able
to put aside personal biases or reactions which threaten impartiality,
the member will examine options available to them. This may include
not accepting the work or withdrawing their services from the assignment
4.3 Respect for Colleagues
Members will act toward colleagues in a spirit of mutual cooperation,
treating and portraying them to others with respect, courtesy, fairness
and good faith. Members are encouraged to share their knowledge with
their colleagues in a spirit of mutual assistance.
- 4.3.2 Members have a professional
obligation to assist and encourage new interpreting practitioners in
Members shall not abuse the good faith of other members or be guilty
of a breach of trust or unfair tactics or the use of unfair tactics.
for Professional Associations Members shall support AVLIC, its affiliates,
and other organizations representing the profession and the Deaf community.
5.0 INTEGRITY IN BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS:
Interpreters establish and maintain professional boundaries with consumers
and colleagues in a manner that is honest and fair.
5.1 Business Practices
- 5.1.1 Members will refrain from
any unfair competition with their colleagues, including but not limited
to: (a) engaging in comparative advertising (b) willfully
undercutting; or (c) artificially inflating fees during times
when market demand exceeds supply.
- 5.1.2 Members will conduct themselves
in all phases of the interpreting situation in a manner befitting the
profession, including negotiating work and contracts, obtaining suitable
preparation material, and choice of attire and professional demeanor.
- 5.1.3 Members
will honour professional commitments made when accepting work, and will
follow through on their obligations. Members may not unilaterally terminate
work or a contract unless they have fair and reasonable grounds to do
- 5.1.4 Members shall take reasonable
care of material and/or property given to them by a consumer and may
not lend such or use it for purposes other than those for which it was
entrusted to them.
5.2 Accurate Representation of Credentials
- 5.2.1 Members shall not by any
means engage in, nor allow the use of, statements that are false, misleading,
incomplete, or likely to mislead consumers or members of the public.
- 5.2.2 Members will refrain from
making inaccurate statements regarding their competence, education,
experience or certification. Only members certified by AVLIC (COI) or
RID (CI/CT or CSC) may use the term "certified" in printed, electronic,
signed or oral transmission. This may include, but is not limited to,
interpreter directories, business cards and forms, promotional materials,
resumes or publications they have authored.
5.3 Reimbursement for Services
- 5.3.1 Members will bill only for
services provided. Members will negotiate fees, including cancellation
policies, preferably in writing or contract form before service is provided.
Members will be sensitive to professional and community norms when establishing
fees for services.
- 5.3.2 Members may also provide
bartered or pro bono service in situations where the profession of interpreting
and the livelihood of other practitioners will not be threatened.
END OF DOCUMENT RATIFIED AT THE AVLIC JULY
References Association of Translators and
Interpreters of Alberta Code of Ethics (draft, 1999). Unpublished. Corey,
Corey, & Callanan. (1993) Issues and ethics in the helping profession.
Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company. Humphrey, Janice (1999)
Decisions, decisions. Amarillo, TX : H & H Publishers Code of Ethics for
Psychiatric Nurses Association of Canada. (February, 1998) Camosum College
Guidelines for Instructors, Victoria, B.C. (1997) Code of Ethics: American
Mental Health Counselors Association. (1997) Code of Ethics: Society of
Translators and Interpreters of British Columbia. (Fall, 1998) Code of
Ethics for the National Association of Social Workers, (revised 1990)