Ethical Conduct within the Translation Profession

Ethical conduct constitutes a very important part of the translation (and interpretation) profession. Money is not everything and everything is not just OK when all corresponding legislation is observed. Everything consists of two parts: a visible body and the spirit in it. Ethical conduct is the spirit of the translation profession.

The general principles contained in the different codes of ethics require translators and interpreters to:

  • Respect their clients’ right to privacy and confidentiality,
  • Disclose any real or perceived conflicts of interest,
  • Decline to undertake work beyond their competence or accreditation levels,
  • Relay information accurately and impartially between parties,
  • Maintain professional detachment and refrain from inappropriate self-promotion,
  • Guard against misuse of inside information for personal gain.

(source: NAATI Ethics Information Booklet)

NAATI/AUSIT Code of Ethics

NAATI/Australia accredited professional translators (like me) have to pass also an ethical exam to achieve this title and as a part of validation scheme, they have to carry out professional development activities. So, I am familiar with and accept AUSIT (The Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators Inc.) Code of Ethics, which is also endorsed by NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters – Australia) which can be summarized as:

  1. Professional conduct: Interpreters and translators act at all times in accordance with the standards of conduct and decorum appropriate to the aims of AUSIT, the national professional association of interpreting and translation practitioners.
  2. Confidentiality: Interpreters and translators maintain confidentiality and do not disclose information acquired in the course of their work.
  3. Competence: Interpreters and translators only undertake work they are competent to perform in the languages for which they are professionally qualified through training and credentials.
  4. Impartiality: Interpreters and translators observe impartiality in all professional contacts. Interpreters remain unbiased throughout the communication exchanged between the participants in any interpreted encounter. Translators do not show bias towards either the author of the source text or the intended readers of their translation.
  5. Accuracy: Interpreters and translators use their best professional judgement in remaining faithful at all times to the meaning of texts and messages.
  6. Clarity of role boundaries: Interpreters and translators maintain clear boundaries between their task as facilitators of communication through message transfer and any tasks that may be undertaken by other parties involved in the assignment.
  7. Maintaining professional relationships: Interpreters and translators are responsible for the quality of their work, whether as employees, freelance practitioners or contractors with interpreting and translation agencies. They always endeavour to secure satisfactory working conditions for the performance of their duties, including physical facilities, appropriate briefing, a clear commission, and clear conduct protocols where needed in specific institutional settings. They ensure that they have allocated adequate time to complete their work; they foster a mutually respectful business relationship with the people with whom they work and encourage them to become familiar with the interpreter or translator
  8. Professional development: Interpreters and translators continue to develop their professional knowledge and skills.
  9. Professional solidarity: Interpreters and translators respect and support their fellow professionals, and they uphold the reputation and trustworthiness of the profession of interpreting and translating.

(source: AUSIT (The Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators Inc.) Code of Ethics)

I took and passed the online “Behaving ethically” course offered by NAATI in 2016.