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ASLIAQ 2021 – “Speak and Ye Shall Find”: How Interpreting Creates Barriers in Ethical Reasoning Skills

$40.00 (member price: $20.00)

ASLIAQ Part 1: “Speak and Ye Shall Find”: How Interpreting Creates Barriers in Ethical Reasoning Skills – presented by Robyn Dean

NAATI PD Points2.21 (10 Points)


Part 1 – ASLIA QLD – Presented by Robyn Dean


To aid in decision-making, we all use rules of thumb, or heuristics. In his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, Kahneman (2011) defined heuristics as, “simple procedures that help find adequate, though often imperfect, answers to difficult questions” (p. 98). These mental short cuts often help us as human decision-makers to think on our feet – to decide and act quickly when necessary. 

Suppose you are offered a good deal on a car but the offer is time-limited. You may say to yourself, Carpe Diem! Or the Early bird gets the worm! Both of these heuristics are designed to compel you to take action. Or, suppose you say to yourself, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” Alternatively, this heuristic compels you to not take action. In either case, these pithy statements help us to make and justify decisions. 

Interpreter decision-makers are also human decision-makers and as such we have come to create our own set of heuristics. We have even come to develop a series of action-oriented heuristics (e.g., “I’m a member of the team”) and those which appear to express a limiting effect on taking action (“I’m just the interpreter). We say these to ourselves and we say them to each other. Trading heuristics back and forth, those that defend action and those that defend inaction is the most common discourse trap in the interpreting profession. It might have the appearance of an ethical analysis but it is unlikely to advance good ethical judgement. 

This presentation addresses the common phrases that we often trade with ourselves and our colleagues and further seeks to problematise their use in the provision of interpreting services. In other words, it is one thing to make such decisions as a consumer, perhaps one that results in over- spending on a car. It is an entirely different thing for these habitually-used heuristics to impact the welfare of others – those who have put their trust in the services offered by professional practitioners. 

Please note:

There will be two ethics presentations by Robyn Dean which build on each other. The first one raises awareness around the interpreting profession’s habits of speech or heuristics. Although the argument is research based, including qualitative data from interpreters, it remains a theoretical argument. The second presentation (which will be hosted soon by ASLIA NSW) expands the theoretical argument and adds an additional layer: data from a standardised instrument that quantitatively measures ethical reasoning.  Even though these presentations build on each other, they are stand-alone presentations. It is not necessary to attend the first to understand the second. 

Participants will be given an opportunity to take the DIT to receive your personal ethical reasoning score in a confidential manner. Details will be made available upon registration for either session.

This event is being gratefully sponsored by Auslan Connections.