Code of Ethics

Interpreter Code of Ethics (SEMI Sapporo version)


Interpreters will treat all information learned during the interpretation as confidential, divulging nothing outside the treating team without the full approval of the client and his/her medical provider.


Accuracy: Conveying the Content and Spirit of What is Said
Interpreters will 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. The interpreter must determine how to best convey what is said and say it in language that is readily understandable and culturally appropriate to the listener. In addition, the interpreter will make every effort to assure that the client has understood questions, instructions and other information.


Completeness: Conveying Everything that is Said
Interpreters will interpret everything that is said by all people in the interaction, without omitting, adding, condensing or changing anything.


Conveying Cultural Frameworks
Interpreters will explain cultural differences or practices to health care providers and clients when appropriate.


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 will make no judgment or comment and will interpret everything accurately.


Client Self-Determination
The interpreter will not influence the opinion of the patients or clients by telling them what action to take.


Attitude Toward Clients
Interpreters will strive to develop a relationship of trust and respect at all times with the client by having a caring, attentive, yet discreet and impartial attitude toward the patient and toward his or her questions, concerns and needs.

The Interpreter will treat each patient equally with dignity and respect regardless of race, color, gender, religion, nationality, political persuasion or life-style choice.


Acceptance of Assignments
If the level of competency or personal sentiments make it difficult to abide by any of the above conditions, the interpreter will decline or withdraw from the assignment.
Interpreters will disclose any real or perceived conflict of interest that could affect their objectivity.


Ethical Violations
Interpreters will withdraw immediately from encounters that they perceive to be in violation of the Interpreter Code of Ethics.


Interpreters will be punctual, prepared and dressed in an appropriate manner. The interpreter is a professional who maintains professional behavior at all times while assisting clients.


Adapted from “Bridging the Gap: A Basic Training for Medical Interpreters” from the Cross Cultural Health Care Program in USA.