Service providers remain neutral and impartial
Consumers have the right to full inclusion. This means that consumers expect service providers to provide unfiltered access to communication, without censoring parts of the message or selectively omitting information. This requires professional neutrality on the part of the service provider whose job it is to facilitate communication without introducing bias, opinion, or personal comment.
Service providers must maintain appropriate professional boundaries in their role as transcriber or captionist. They should only accept assignments where there are no conflicts of interest, and they should avoid performing dual roles while providing services for consumers.
- Deliver effective services regardless of the participants’ race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or other factors
- Relay the meaning and intent of spoken content completely, accurately, faithfully, without elaboration, omission, or comment
- Except when correcting or clarifying a typo in your transcript, refer all content questions back to the original speaker
- When voicing for a consumer, deliver the message completely, accurately, faithfully, and in a manner that is tonally consistent with the consumer’s intent
- Avoid misguided altruism—do not attempt to “improve” a consumer’s communication by altering tone or style, selecting different words, or filling in gaps
- Avoid performing dual roles (see below)
- Avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest (see below)
- Disclose any actual or perceived conflicts of interest to the service coordinator
- Freelance service providers who serve as their own service coordinators should communicate any conflicts of interest to the client before finalizing a service contract or agreement
- If unexpected conflicts of interest arise during an assignment, disclose them to the consumer or client
- Be mindful of power dynamics between yourself and consumers (especially those who may see you as an authority)
- Support consumer independence and self-advocacy by facilitating communication access (e.g. avoid speaking on the consumer’s behalf, have the consumer raise a hand to ask questions, etc.)
- When not in your role as a service provider, you may advocate for accessibility and support it as a personal or political cause, but avoid speaking on behalf of consumers (or appearing to do so)
What constitutes a conflict of interest?
A conflict of interest is any external relationship that would potentially impact a service provider’s ability to remain impartial or to appear impartial to others (i.e. perceived conflicts of interest). When the personal, political, professional, or financial interests of the service provider conflict or interfere with his or her duties as a service provider, a conflict of interest occurs.
What does it mean for a service provider to be in his or her “role?”
Service providers are considered to be “in their role” when working an assignment and engaged in the act of providing communication access. During a teamed assignment, service providers are still considered to be in their role while awaiting their turn to transcribe, and should follow the guiding principles of this tenet.
What are “dual roles?”
Dual roles occur when service providers who are in their role as communication access facilitators step outside of that role and take on another role (officially or unofficially). For instance, when a service provider crosses the line between providing communication access and performing duties or responsibilities such as the following:
- Teaching information to the consumer (i.e. tutoring)
- Offering personal or professional counsel to the consumer (i.e. job coaching, life coaching)
- Providing legal or medical guidance to a consumer
- Acting as a personal assistant, teacher’s assistant, or paraprofessional aide
- Speaking on behalf of the consumer (regardless of whether the consumer is present or absent)
- Providing notice or forewarning to a consumer (e.g. giving a consumer a “heads up” that he or she is about to be fired, based on knowledge received during assignment prep or during a previous assignment)
Service providers must rely on sound judgment and common sense in the course of their duties. While maintaining appropriate professional boundaries is an important part of providing impartial communication access, there are uncommon occasions when it would be reasonable for a service provider to step outside of his or her role (e.g. providing voluntary assistance during an emergency; helping someone who is injured, ill, or in peril).