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  • Jun Yue

Community Interpreting Explained: 5-1

Updated: May 1

What is Community Interpreting?

  1. Community interpreting (ISO) is bidirectional interpreting that takes place in communicative settings among speakers of different languages for the purpose of accessing community services (ISO, 2014, p. 1).

  2. Community interpreting is a specialization of interpreting that facilitates access to community services for individuals who do not speak the language of service.” (The Community Interpreter – An International Textbook)

What makes Community Interpreting unique from other specializations of interpreting?

  1. local interpreters for local residents – serving the local community

  2. community interpreters are usually hired by public, governmental, community, non-profit, or educational organizations, etc

  3. interpreting tasks are mostly bi-directional; while it is common to be uni-directional in conference interpreting

  4. conference interpreting limits to fewer than 30 languages in total worldwide, while community interpreting involves nealy any languages spoken in communiteis, eg. 380 in the United States

  5. no physical booth used most of the time: face-to-face, over-the-phone, or internet-based

  6. extended roles for community interpreters: adovocates, mediators, cultural liaisons, outreach workers. etc.

Professional diversity of community interpreters:

  1. full-time staff community interpreters

  2. bilingual full-time staff who work mainly as commuinty interpreters

  3. independent freelance contact-based community interpreters

  4. bilingual full-time staff who occassioanlly works as commuinty interpters

  5. volunteer community interprters

Code of Ethics for Community Interpreters:

  1. Confidentiality

  2. Accuracy

  3. Impartiality

  4. Transparency

  5. Direct Communicatin

  6. Professional Boundaries

  7. Intercultural Communication

  8. Professional Conduct

Incredibly Valuable Resources for Medical Interpreters – equally useful to other community interpreters

  1. California Standards for Healthcare Interpreters – Ethical Principles, Protocols, and Guidance on Roles & Interventions – aka the CHIA Standards – are an essential tool for raising language-service quality and quality of care.

  2. Click here to download a PDF copy of CHIA Standards in English

The “Say No” Model in Community Interpreting

  1. There are a great variety of scenarios in which a community interpreter needs to say no, and these three steps in the exact order will make the process more effective and efficient: 1. Be gracious 2. Offer Choices 3. Give reasons

Communicative Autonomy: A Bedrock Value for Community Interpreters

  1. Definition: The capacity of each party in an encounter to be responsible for and in control of his or her own communication


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