The sign language interpreter/student relationship is unique. The interpreter is present in the educational environment to facilitate communication between deaf/hard of hearing students and hearing professors and fellow students; interpreters help people who use different language modes to communicate effectively. In university environments it is not uncommon for interpreters and students to build relationships and even friendships while they work together. However, professional codes and ethics for interpreters can conflict with the normal affinity and closeness developed in many interpersonal relationships. This can lead to contradictory impulses and tensions. The relational dialects theory is guided by the premise that different forms of tension between people characterize interpersonal relationships. There are opposing forces at play that must be managed and negotiated for a relationship to progress. This qualitative research uses semi-structure in-depth interviews with university sign language interpreters to discover the type of relational dialects they experience. More importantly this research reports on communication considerations used by interpreters to manage and negotiate relationships with students.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Interpreters for the deaf--Attitudes; Interpreters for the deaf--Professional ethics; Interpersonal communication; Communication--Philosophy

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Communication and Media Technologies (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Department of Communication (CLA)


Patrick Scanlon

Advisor/Committee Member

David Neumann

Advisor/Committee Member

Richard (Rico) Peterson


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at HV2402 .T834 2015


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes