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Multiple Roles

DHHAP Information and Technical Assistance Series
About Multiple Roles in Interpreting
Interpreters work in a variety of settings and situations, many in private practice. That is, they are self-employed, and work on a fee-for-service basis. Private practice interpreters are careful to avoid situations in which non-interpreting duties might be expected in conjunction with an interpreting assignment. The role of these interpreters is singular; that role is to interpret, and to do so in accord with the Code of Ethics of the Association (see RID Code of Ethics).
Other interpreters may hold jobs in which interpreting is one among several types of work included in their job descriptions. Jobs such as this may be referred to as multiple role jobs. In multiple role jobs, conflicts may emerge between the interpreting role and other job requirements. The best time to deal with potential role conflicts is before they occur. When a job description for a multiple role position is being developed, job requirements likely to come into conflict with the interpreting role should be considered and resolved. When job descriptions for multiple role positions are already a reality, and are found to produce role conflicts, employers should delineate which role takes precedence. The appropriate revisions should be considered.
Developing multiple role positions
When developing and implementing a multiple role position with interpreting named as the primary role, include:
  • interpreter certification as a desired job qualification (see RID National Testing System)
  • opportunities for the interpreter to participate in activities necessary for continuing skill development, professional growth, and certification maintenance (see RID Certification Maintenance Program)
  • a compensation formula that takes into account recommended compensation for professional interpreters and the weight of the interpreting component relative to other components of the job.
  • clarification regarding special situations in which the interpreter is part of a support services team which shares a common commitment​ to confidentiality
When developing a multiple role job description with interpreting named as the primary role, exclude tasks that require the interpreter to:
  • reveal, report, or use confidential information obtained while interpreting
  • perform the interpreter role and another role simultaneously
  • interpret beyond their competency level
  • routinely perform tasks that might exacerbate physical problems sometimes associated with interpreting
  • interpret for long periods of time without relief
  • be unavailable when needed for the interpreting component of the job.
When interpreting is not named as a primary role, conflicts can still occur. Great care must be taken to inform all parties:
  • of the role in which the person is functioning
  • of the possible future use of the information gained in that situation
  • that there may be legal mandates which override the Code of Ethics
Interpreter´s credentials
Employers of interpreters will want to employ competent interpreters. It should be noted that the only reliable indicator of an interpreter´s level of competence is the interpreter´s credentials. The most reliable credentials, and the only ones recognized nationwide, are those issued by the national Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.
Code of Ethics
The Code of Ethics is the foundation of the interpreting profession. Every employer of interpreters should become familiar with the Code of Ethics, which should have significant influence in the development of multiple role positions.
The Association believes.....
Through multiple role positions, interpreters can be placed in many settings in which the hiring of a full time interpreter would not be feasible or justifiable. While having interpreters in more places means better access for deaf consumers, multiple role positions can result in misunderstanding of interpreters and the interpreting profession. The Association believes that as multiple role positions are developed, respect for and adherence to the standards of the profession will promote understanding and will protect the credibility of the interpreting profession.