Will Revision of the Code of Professional Conduct be ADA Friendly

or is the CPC Irrelevant in the Interpreter’s Pursuit of Social Justice?


The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf’s Code of Professional Conduct has been revised several times since its conception. The most recent revision occurred in 2005. Each revision has reflected the development of interpreting as a profession and the cultural values of the Deaf community. The Code of Professional Conduct, or CPC, has set sign language interpreters in America apart from other spoken language interpreters. The profession’s ethical guidelines essentially can be summarized in the phrase “Do no harm,” but the actual CPC consists of seven major tenets made up of many subtenants.   These tenets outline the values interpreters should reflect, as well as boundaries that the interpreter should strive to maintain. A breach of these tenets could result in removal from the RID’s registry.

Many members of the interpreting community now agree that it is time to once again revise the CPC. Proponents of this revision feel that some tenets are too vague while others are too confining, leaving either too much room for situational ethics or not enough.   A recent article by Street Leverage suggested that the CPC be revised to make it more compatible with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Another proposed revision, which reflects the changing times, has to do with maintaining client confidentiality in the age of social media. Other members of the interpreting community believe that the interpreting profession has outgrown its need for the CPC and any code that would dictate an interpreter’s behavior is no longer preferred. Members of this camp may say that now that interpreters have departed from the helper model, the battle for social justice and communication equality is restricted by the guidelines set forth in the CPC.

Whether or not you believe a CPC revision is preferred, its revision will substantially influence the future of the interpreting profession. Interpreters have come a long way, but there is still work to be done in the pursuit of social justice and equality in communication access. The profession must continue to evolve, even as language and culture evolve, to meet the needs of today’s d/Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing clients. Whether a revision of the CPC will lead interpreters into a new age of relevance has yet to be seen.

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