- Returning to Ethics: A Meta-Ethical Analysis of Community Interpreters’ Codes and Standards of Practice
- Critiquing and Deconstructing Metaphors: A Normative Ethical Framework for Community Interpreters
She will also be participating in a panel on interpreting ethics:
- You Did What? Making Sense of Conflicting Codes of Ethics, Part I and II.
The details on these sessions can be found at this link.
Read about the interview’s key concepts in the following abstract. For the full transcript, please click here.
Robyn does not see a conflict between the ethical codes in interpreting. Instead, she believes that the diverse sources of information interpreters use to make decisions on ethical issues can cause confusion.
|Sociolinguistic perspective||Ethicist perspective|
|Explains behaviors with metaphors. |
• members of teams
Metaphors describe behavior without judgment and evaluation.
|This perspective uses:
• consequences of an action
These constructs are used to evaluate that behavior in light of the values that the setting and our profession offer as important.
Metaphors are really limited in their helpfulness. We should be asking “what are community interpreters responsible for?”
For years, our field has held to the value of “allowing service users to interact with each other in the most natural form that they can, without interruption or interference.”
The team member metaphor seems to be advancing the idea that the values of the setting matter to interpreters in light of their decision making. We have to consider the consequences of forfeiting one value that is important to us as a professional for another value that is also important to us. This is part of what Robyn will explore at greater length in San Francisco.
One thing Robyn found as she did her PhD research is that interpreters can’t speak the ethical language of the people they’re often collaborating with. Poorly constructed ethical thought (such as through the devices of metaphor) stunted interpreters’ ability to think critically about, reason through, and evaluate decisions.
The ethical decision making framework Robyn will discuss in San Francisco includes the concepts of conflicting values and professional principles as well as how to include the values of the setting in our decision-making. This framework also incorporates questions about responsibility for professional values and consequences of behavior.
Robyn has written about observation-supervision, a technique based on what medical professionals call problem-based learning. She can refer readers to articles on observation-supervision, which she has developed with a team. Scenarios are certainly helpful in some regards, but they’re also very static, they fail to present sufficient information for discussion, and people make assumptions about things that may or may not be true.
Robyn would argue that our profession should consider modifying the certification process, borrowing from what many other practice professions do. Performance tests can be coupled with other evaluation opportunities, such as portfolios, for certification. Performance tests that are just one-off tests only do so much to measure a person’s effectiveness. Portfolios are another way of getting access to the effectiveness of an individual’s skill set. Going back to the idea of supervision, if a new practitioner passes their minimum competencies, then the interpreter would be allowed to practice under the supervision of a certified practitioner. If we adopted such a design, then interpreters who have passed a proficiency exam would work under the supervision of others and would have to regularly engage in supervision or reflective practice sessions. Then, after a certain number of hours of work under supervision, the interpreter would be able to apply for certification, which would allow them to work independently.
Robyn Dean has been a nationally certified American Sign Language interpreter for over 25 years specializing in health care. She has over 20 publications, all of which focus on the theoretical and pedagogical frameworks used to advance the practice of community interpreters. She is currently an assistant professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where she is the lead instructor for the Institute’s postgraduate degree in health care interpreting. She also teaches courses for postgraduate degrees designed for sign language interpreters in Europe.
Interviewer: Marsel de Souza, Interpreters Division Assistant Administrator
Abstract editor: Helen Eby, Interpreters Division Leadership Council member
Read the full interview here.
Photo courtesy of Robyn Dean.