My dear friend María Pérez-Chambers, a Federal Certified Court Interpreter, currently serving a term as Justice of the Peace in the state of Delaware, often says, “the interpreter is a retrofit in the courtroom.” In my experience, her statement is also true in every other environment and system where interpreters provide services, because all these environments existed before the addition of an interpreter to the process.
Professionals who work with interpreters often wonder whether interpreters are officers of the court, or members of the medical or the IEP team. The answer is yes, interpreters are members of those teams because they share the purpose of the team, and because they must take into account the environment, the system, and established protocols when providing their services while simultaneously working within the standards of practice for professional interpreters.
As every other professional in your team, the interpreter has standards of practice that delimit their performance, and professional boundaries that allow them to do their job in an ethical manner. These professional boundaries should be respected in the same way that the professional boundaries of other professionals are respected. Doing so will allow the interpreter to perform their duties and contribute to the positive outcome of your session. As a professional member of your team, interpreters understand that you need to verify their credentials, education, certification, and professional background.
Yes, interpreters are a retrofit in any given environment where services are provided to the public, but with some flexibility and common sense when integrating their services, they can be an invaluable addition to your team.
Work with your interpreter the same way you would with any other member of your team to get the maximum benefit from their services.