Sign language interpreters' codes of ethics: should we maintain the status quo?

Marcel Leneham, Jemina Napier

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper explores the current situation for sign language interpreters in relation to ethical and professional practice, by analysing the key principles found within Codes of Ethics. By referring to literature and using case studies to elaborate on discussion, the authors establish the concept of ethics for interpreters and question the prevailing tenets within ethical codes for interpreters in terms of practicality and application. The key question asked is whether Codes of Ethics for sign language interpreters are needed, and if so whether they need to be changed to account for developments in the understanding of the interpreter's role, and incorporate a rights-based approach as discussed by Cokely (2000). The authors conclude that Codes are needed, but the ideal would be for principles to be re-framed in order to allow more flexibility for working interpreters, while maintaining professional standards. The major issue of concern is the lack of infrastructure to ensure that Codes are enforceable, and the authors recommend, therefore, that in order to improve professional standards, the status quo should not be maintained.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)78-98
    Number of pages21
    JournalDeaf worlds : international journal of deaf studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    • sign language
    • interpreting
    • ethics
    • professionalism
    • practice
    • standards

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