Talk.Partners Standards

Best practice ensure consistent quality

Our standards describe what is considered “best practice” by the profession and ensure a consistent quality of performance from our translators, editors and interpreters.

Standards of Practice

The following standards of practice are a set of guidelines that define what an interpreter does in the performance of his or her role, that is, the tasks and skills the interpreter should be able to perform in the course of fulfilling the duties of the profession.



Objective: To enable other parties to know precisely what each speaker has said.
  1. The interpreter renders all messages accurately and completely, without adding, omitting, or substituting. For example, an interpreter repeats all that is said, even if it seems redundant, irrelevant, or rude.
  2. The interpreter replicates the register, style, and tone of the speaker. For example, unless there is no equivalent in the patient’s language, an interpreter does not substitute simpler explanations for medical terms a provider uses but may ask the speaker to re-express themselves in language more easily understood by the other party.
  3. The interpreter advises parties that everything said will be interpreted. For example, an interpreter may explain the interpreting process to a provider by saying “everything you say will be repeated to the patient.”
  4. The interpreter manages the flow of communication. For example, an interpreter may ask a speaker to pause or slow down.
  5. The interpreter corrects errors in interpretation. For example, an interpreter who has omitted an important word corrects the mistake as soon as possible.
  6. The interpreter maintains transparency. For example, when asking for clarification, an interpreter says to all parties, “I, the interpreter, did not understand, so I am going to ask for an explanation.”


Objective: To honor the private and personal nature of the health care interaction and maintain trust among all parties.
  1. The interpreter maintains confidentiality and does not disclose information outside the treating team, except with the patient’s consent or if required by law. For example, an interpreter does not discuss a patient’s case with family or community members without the patient’s consent.
  2. The interpreter protects written patient information in his or her possession. For example, an interpreter does not leave notes on an interpreting session in public view.


Objective: To eliminate the effect of interpreter bias or preference.
  1. The interpreter does not allow personal judgments or cultural values to influence objectivity. For example, an interpreter does not reveal personal feelings through words, tone of voice, or body language.
  2. The interpreter discloses potential conflicts of interest, withdrawing from assignments if necessary. For example, an interpreter avoids interpreting for a family member or close friend.


Objective: To acknowledge the inherent dignity of all parties in the interpreted encounter.
  1. The interpreter uses professional, culturally appropriate ways of showing respect. For example, in greetings, an interpreter uses appropriate titles for both patient and provider.
  2. The interpreter promotes direct communication among all parties in the encounter. For example, an interpreter may tell the patient and provider to address each other, rather than the interpreter.


Objective: To facilitate communication across cultural differences.
  1. The interpreter promotes patient autonomy. For example, an interpreter directs a patient who asks him or her for a ride home to appropriate resources within the institution.
  2. The interpreter strives to understand the cultures associated with the languages he or she interprets, including biomedical culture. For example, an interpreter learns about the traditional remedies some patients may use.
  3. The interpreter alerts all parties to any significant cultural misunderstanding that arises. For example, if a provider asks a patient who is fasting for religious reasons to take oral medication, an interpreter may call attention to the potential conflict.


Objective: To clarify the scope and limits of the interpreting role, in order to avoid conflicts of interest.
  1. The interpreter limits personal involvement with all parties during the interpreting assignment. For example, an interpreter does not share or elicit overly personal information in conversations with a patient.
  2. The interpreter limits his or her professional activity to interpreting within an encounter. For example, an interpreter never advises a patient on health care questions but redirects the patient to ask the provider.
  3. The interpreter with an additional role adheres to all interpreting standards of practice while interpreting. For example, an interpreter who is also a nurse does not confer with another provider in the patient’s presence, without reporting what is said. 


Objective: To uphold the public’s trust in the interpreting profession.
  1. The interpreter is honest and ethical in all business practices. For example, an interpreter accurately represents his or her credentials.
  2. The interpreter is prepared for all assignments. For example, an interpreter asks about the nature of the assignment and reviews relevant terminology. 
  3. The interpreter discloses skill limitations with respect to particular assignments. For example, an interpreter who is unfamiliar with a highly technical medical term asks for an explanation before continuing to interpret.
  4. The interpreter avoids sight translation, especially of complex or critical documents, if he or she lacks sight translation skills. For example, when asked to sight translate a surgery consent form, an interpreter instead asks the provider to explain its content and then interprets the explanation.
  5. The interpreter is accountable for professional performance. For example, an interpreter does not blame others for his or her interpreting errors.
  6. The interpreter advocates for working conditions that support quality interpreting. For example, an interpreter on a lengthy assignment indicates when fatigue might compromise interpreting accuracy.
  7. The interpreter shows respect for the professionals with whom he or she works. For example, an interpreter does not spread rumors that would discredit another interpreter.
  8. The interpreter acts in a manner befitting the dignity of the profession and appropriate to the setting. For example, an interpreter dresses appropriately and arrives on time for appointments.


Objective: To attain the highest possible level of competence and service.
  1. The interpreter continues to develop language and cultural knowledge and interpreting skills. For example, an interpreter stays up to date on changes in medical terminology or regional slang.
  2. The interpreter seeks feedback to improve his or her performance. For example, an interpreter consults with colleagues about a challenging assignment.
  3. The interpreter supports the professional development of fellow interpreters. For example, an experienced interpreter mentors novice interpreters.
  4. The interpreter participates in organizations and activities that contribute to the development of the profession. For example, an interpreter attends professional workshops and conferences.


OBJECTIVE: To prevent harm to parties that the interpreter serves.
  1. The interpreter may speak out to protect an individual from serious harm. For example, an interpreter may intervene on behalf of a patient with a life-threatening allergy, if the condition has been overlooked.
  2. The interpreter may advocate on behalf of a party or group to correct mistreatment or abuse. For example, an interpreter may alert his or her supervisor to patterns of disrespect towards patients.

Implementation of Standards

The above standards of practice are concise summary statements of expectations and skills that a competent professional in our field should have.

Having these documents does not eliminate the need for training and education, however. In fact, training is central to the continued growth and development of the profession of interpreting at Interpretum. As such, our Standards of Practice are used for:

Supervisors, trainers, and training organizations are encouraged to adopt and promote these standards and to incorporate them into their training. For the purposes of training, the examples that accompany each standard should be discussed and many other examples considered as further illustrations of good interpreting practice.

Hiring authorities can refer to these standards when interviewing or testing candidates for employment as interpreters in health care settings.

These standards can be used, with other criteria, as a basis for performance evaluation and ongoing quality assessment of interpreting services.

These standards are intended to provide the basis for discussion on the merits of a certification process to assess the qualifications of interpreters working or preparing to work at Interpretum.

Would you like to become part of our pool of interpreters?

Our interpreters need to have outstanding language skills in at least two languages, be confident linguists, have a deep understanding of both cultures and, above all, master the art of interpreting. Contact us to start your journey with Interpretum.