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State officials plan to improve language access to courts

By: Daily Record Staff//March 27, 2017

State officials plan to improve language access to courts

By: Daily Record Staff//March 27, 2017

New York state court officials have announced a plan to improve services for litigants with limited English proficiency or who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The plan called Ensuring Language Access: A Strategic Plan for the New York State Courts includes nearly 70 actions to be taken to eliminate barriers to justice for people with limited English proficiency and deaf or hard-of- hearing people.

The plan focuses on enhancing court interpreter recruitment, training and assessment; optimizing the use of interpreting resources; ensuring language access in other parts of the courthouse in addition to the courtroom; more effectively responding to the diverse needs of the deaf and hard-of- hearing community; raising public awareness about the services provided by the courts’ Office of Language Access; and ensuring language access in town and village courts.

Key steps in the plan include:

  • Creating a court interpreter trainee position to establish an entry-level gateway to a court interpreting career.
  • Raising the per diem rates for court interpreters, and implementing a tiered compensation structure based on experience, education and other factors to attract the most qualified interpreters.
  • Establishing a court interpreting intern program to give college students an opportunity to learn about the court system and careers in court interpreting.
  • Expanding testing for court interpreters. Oral exams now cover 22 languages. Oral exams will be developed in seven additional languages, based on usage and demand.
  • Increasing the use of bilingual orders of protection. Bilingual orders of protection are now issued in in Spanish, Russian and Chinese. More languages will be added on an ongoing basis and will the bilingual format may be expanded to other types of orders, such as child support.
  • Expanding the use of remote interpreting in court proceedings.
  • Appointing a task force to develop a plan to improve language access in town and village courts.
  • To read the complete report on the strategy, click here.


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