Help & Advice13th October 2013

The Interpreter's Code of Conduct Explained

The NRCPD Interpreter's Code of Practice explained

by Julie Doyle & Tracey Pycroft

Code of Conduct


Our previous edition of SL First outlined the need for BSL/English Interpreters to register with the National Registers of Communication Professionals with Deaf People (NRCPD) either as a Registered Sign Language Interpreter (RSLI) or as a Trainee Sign Language Interpreter (TSLI).


Interpreters have rules and guidelines to follow to make sure they provide a professional service. This is called the Code of Conduct and can be found at in English and BSL.  Having this code means people know what to expect from interpreters, it builds trust, and maintains integrity in the profession. It also protects clients and interpreters (all parties).

There are 5 points to the Code.


Interpreters are not allowed to pass on any information they have interpreted to anyone, unless there are some special circumstances (in law) where they may have to tell someone about it. For example: if someone broke the law, or if someone said they were being abused.


Some interpreters are new to the profession while others have over 20 years experience. When an interpreter is asked to interpret something, they will know if they are suitable or not. An interpreter must not accept the job if they feel they are not competent. For example: An experienced interpreter may have worked in most settings but has not learned how to interpret in legal settings. If they are asked to interpret in Court or at a tribunal, they must turn it down.


How interpreters conduct themselves when working is very important, as this will affect the people they work with, but also the profession of interpreters as a whole.  They should always behave professionally, respecting everyone present, including other communication professionals. For Example: Interpreters have to match the environment, so for interpreting at a conference, they should dress suitably.  Trainee Interpreters should clearly state that they are Trainee Interpreters and not just use the term’ TSLI’ or BSL/English Interpreter as this may create misunderstanding.


Interpreters are not allowed to give their opinions, advice or influence the discussion, and they should not benefit from an interpreting assignment. For Example: If they interpret at a meeting where people talk about the sale of a house that is going cheap, the interpreter is not able to try and buy the house for themselves or tell anyone about this.

Interpreters should not interpret in situations where there is a conflict of interest. For Example: If the interpreter has Deaf parents and is asked to interpret for them in a legal setting.

Professional Development

It is important that interpreters continue to develop their skills and knowledge after qualifying.

The NRCPD requires interpreters to undergo ‘Continuing Professional Development’ (CPD) and prove they are doing so by logging their activities and collecting points.  All interpreters need to collect a specific number of points each year before they can renew their registration with the NRCPD.

If an interpreter breaches NRCPD’s code of conduct, they are subject to a complaints Procedure that can be found at

Article by Julie Doyle & Tracey Pycroft

posted in Community / Help & Advice

13th October 2013