Language Access: Called to Action

About Our Progress

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. During the past 5 years since the Summit, jurisdictions across the country have made significant improvements in providing language access services. Read more.

Statement of the Issue

Equal justice for all has long been one of the fundamental rights our country has believed in and has been built upon. However, when language barriers disrupt the process of justice and prevent communication, we lose the basic values of our justice system. To maintain these values, every litigant, victim, and witness must comprehend what is happening in the courtroom. Read more.


The Summit and Call to Action

On October 1-3, 2012, the National Summit on Language Access in the Courts was held in Houston, Texas. Following the Summit, in July 2013, NCSC, with SJI support, published a report, A National Call to Action: Access to Justice for Limited English Proficient Litigants with a list of Action Steps that were derived from the Summit and the assessment. In the NCSC 2017 survey respondents were asked to select the most valuable aspects of the Summit or the Call to Action publication that they applied to their program in the past 5 years. Read more.


Responses to the Call to Action

Following the Summit and the subsequent Call to Action, there was an immediate and concerted effort at the national level. The CCJ, COSCA, SJI, and NCSC demonstrated their commitment to assisting states to improve the administration of language access services through decisive and prompt responses and actions. Read more. 


Innovative Programs and Survey Results 

Over the past five years since the Summit and the release of the Call to Action, there have been conversations and reports that jurisdictions have been making significant improvements in their language access services.  In order to document and accurately capture all of the progress that has been made, NCSC, with SJI support, distributed a survey to measure these improvements. Read more.


Needs and Challenges

Based on the results of this report, it is evident that language access services across the country have been steadily improving over the last five years.We can attribute this progress to the concerted commitment to providing language access services. Read more. 


The Future of Language Access in State Courts

In a relatively short period of time, the state courts have made significant progress in the provision of language access services.  As detailed in this report and the survey data, most state courts now have fully-developed language access programs, or have implemented key components that help ensure the effective administration of language access services to LEP court users. Read more.