Five years have already passed since state court leaders from across the country convened at the 2012 National Summit on Language Access in the Courts and since the subsequent release of the publication A National Call to Action.  At the Summit, representatives from 49 states, 3 territories, and the District of Columbia convened.  What resulted from the Summit and the Call to Action was a new level of collaboration and focus that assisted the language access community to effectively and efficiently create solutions to language barriers in the state courts. Read more.

During the past 5 years since the Summit, jurisdictions across the country have made significant improvements in providing language access services.  At this juncture, the State Justice Institute (SJI) and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) would like to highlight the progress and improvements made throughout the country, with a special emphasis on the initiatives and programs that have been particularly successful and effective. 

"Those of us who have been involved in language access efforts in the courts from the outset recognize the challenges that state courts have had to overcome and the tremendous strides that state courts have made, individually and collectively, to enhance access to justice in the five years following the Summit. Nationally, NCSC’s Language Access Services Section, with the assistance of the Language Access Advisory Committee (Conference of State Court Administrators) and the Council for Language Access Coordinators, has enhanced the quality and consistency of interpreter services through interpreter testing program improvements and the establishment of a database of more than 1,300 qualified court interpreters. The benefits of court interpreter resource sharing on a national level have been realized, and state courts look forward to on-going efforts to support video remote interpreting solutions. We can be exceptionally proud of how far we have come in the relatively short time since the Summit."

Patricia Griffin, Former Chair of Language Access Advisory Committee,
Former Director of the Delaware Administrative Office of the Courts[1]

This report provides an overview of the activities that states and national entities have employed in their efforts to improve language access over the past five years since the Summit and the subsequent release of the Call to Action.  In order to obtain an accurate and comprehensive overview of language access services, we asked jurisdictions across the nation to complete a survey regarding their language access programs and services.  The survey asked both multiple choice questions and open-ended questions.  Thus, the survey data presented in this report is presented both in the aggregate and individual state responses in narrative form.  By presenting the information in this format, we feel we are able to facilitate idea-sharing and replication of successful models by providing the most accurate description of the improvements jurisdictions have made and the issues they may still face.  By distributing this information, our goal is that states continue the collaboration that kicked-off at the Summit.

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[1] Currently Master in Chancery, Delaware Court of Chancery.