Code of Ethics for Interpreters


Role of the Interpreter

  • Confidentiality
    Interpreters must treat all information learned during the interpretation as confidential, divulging nothing without the full approval of the parent and teacher. The goal is to “render the message faithfully, always convening the content and spirit of the speaker”
  • Accuracy: Conveying the Content and Spirit of What is Said
    Interpreters must transmit the message in a thorough and faithful manner, giving consideration to linguistic variations in both languages and conveying the tone and spirit of the original message. A word-for-word interpretation may not convey the intended idea.. In addition, the interpreter will make every effort to assure that the parent has understood questions, instructions and other information transmitted by the provider-.
  • Completeness: Conveying Everything that is Said in Consecutive Interpretation
    Interpreters must interpret everything that is said by all people in the interaction, without omitting, adding, condensing or changing anything. If the content to be interpreted might be perceived as offensive, insensitive or otherwise harmful to the dignity and well-being of the parent, student, or teacher, the interpreter should advise and ask for clarification.
  • Non-Judgmental Attitude about the Content to be Interpreted
    An interpreter's function is to facilitate communication. Interpreters are not responsible for what is said by anyone for whom they are interpreting. Even if the interpreter disagrees with what is said, thinks it is wrong, a lie or even immoral, the interpreter must suspend judgment, make no comment, and interpret everything accurately.
  • Refraining from Counseling/Advising
    The parent may ask the opinion of the interpreter. When this happens, the interpreter may provide or restate information that will assist the parent in making his or her own decision. The interpreter will not influence the opinion of teachers or parents by telling them what action to take.
  • Nondiscrimination Clause
    The interpreter shall treat each parent equally with dignity and respect regardless of race, color, gender, religion, nationality, political persuasion or life-style choice.
  • Acceptance of Assignments
    If level of competency or personal sentiments makes it difficult to abide by any of the above conditions, the interpreter shall decline or withdraw from the assignment.

    Interpreters should disclose any real or perceived conflict of interest that could affect their objectivity. For example, interpreters should refrain from providing services to family members or close personal friends except in emergencies. In personal relationships, it is difficult to remain unbiased or non-judgmental.
  • Professionalism
    Interpreters shall be punctual, prepared and dressed in an appropriate manner.
  • Conflict of Interest
    Interpreters shall not promote businesses or self-gain during sessions. However, an interpreter may make suggestions of public agencies when requested.

Role of the Provider (Teacher, Counselors, Administrators)

  • Use the interpreter. Children do not make good interpreters. (This includes teenage siblings.)   Even when parents speak some English, you’ll still want to use an interpreter to ensure your complete message is being understood.
  • Do not engage in side conversations with other people while the interpreter is speaking to the parents. Ask the interpreter to clarify anything you may not understand.
  • You have the right to know what is being said. Everything should be interpreted. It is the duty of the interpreter to be transparent.
  • The provider should strive to develop a relationship of trust and respect at all times with the interpreter and always treat them with professional courtesy.
  • The provider shall treat each person equally with dignity and respect regardless of race, color, gender, religion, nationality, political persuasion or life-style choice.


  1. Pre-session - The interpreter should give a short pre-session. Beginning with introducing himself/herself (name, title), defining the role as interpreting including – confidentiality, letting the participants know that everything will be interpreted, and that the interpreter will be speaking in first person.
  1. Seating Arrangement - The interpreter will position himself or herself in the most unobtrusive way.
  1. Interpretation - The interpreter should speak in first person, whenever possible. The interpreter will strive to maintain the same register as the source language.  The interpreter will clarify any cultural barriers if necessary. 
  1. Provider - The provider will pause to give time after a couple of sentences so the interpreter is able to interpret everything you say.

    The provider will not look at the interpreter, but the parent when speaking to build rapport with the parent, speaking in first person directly to the family.

    If you have student led conferences, the interpreter will interpret for the student to ensure accuracy of content.