UBC Graduate Research

You want me to do what? : ethical dilemmas for sign language interpreters in Canadian post-secondary education West, Miriam


Personal discussions with American Sign Language/English interpreters who work in post-secondary settings and the institutional employees who contract their services revealed discrepancies between the services interpreters typically provide and the services the institutional employees typically expect of interpreters. At the centre of this relationship are guidelines, established to assist in the provision of services for d/Deaf and hard of hearing students. While the guidelines sought to introduce standards and improve service provision, countering guidelines with the AVLIC Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Professional Conduct revealed inconsistencies that served to place interpreters in ethical dilemmas. The role of the institutional employee, responsible for contracting interpreting services, is key to students attaining not only appropriate services, but a more inclusive education. Given the current models of service delivery though, the chances of an institutional employee having the necessary knowledge, and employment status, to provide this kind of support is low. In the spirit of improving the working relationships between and among interpreters, and institutional employees, the first step is recognizing that the guidelines serve to place both at a disadvantage. Perhaps the most challenging, problems are embedded in the guidelines making it difficult for any one stakeholder to discern. With an awareness of the discrepancies, stakeholders will have the tools to better understand each other’s positions and the means to build more constructive working relationships.

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