Language Access Methodology
Locating Best Practices for Non-English Speakers
This data was collected through the Justice Index Questionnaire in 2015 and NCAJ’s quality assurance review process. (See “Overall Methodology”).
Sources of Authority Prompting Research
Research to determine indicators and best practices for people with limited English proficiency (“LEP”) was prompted by consideration of the following sources:
- ABA, Standards for Language Access in Courts (2012)
- Brennan Center, Language Access in State Courts (2009)
- National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Increasing Access to Justice for Limited English Proficient Asian Pacific Americans: Report for Action (2007)
- Conference of State Court Administrators, White Paper on Court Interpretation: Fundamental Access to Justice (2007)
- U.S. Dept. of Justice, Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affected Limited English Proficient Persons, 67 Fed. Reg. 41455, 41471 (June 18, 2002)
- National Center for State Courts, Court Interpretation: Model Guides for Policy and Practice in State Courts (2002)
- Consortium for Language Access in the Courts, 10 Key Components to a Successful Language Access Program in the Courts (undated)
Note Regarding Puerto Rico
The Justice Index indicators for measuring Language Access refer specifically to practices for people for whom English is not their primary language. These questions are not apt for the Puerto Rico court system, in which the official language is Spanish. As such, we did not score or rank Puerto Rico in this category, though we did include informational citations for Puerto Rico where relevant information was available. For the Composite Index, Puerto Rico’s composite score was calculated by averaging its scores for the remaining three categories, excluding Language Access.
Further Information on Selected Indicators
We have identified certain indicators that we believe would benefit from further information as to the question asked and/or standard applied. Because this information is too lengthy to include with the indicators on the Findings pages, we compiled it into one document, which you can access here (Annotated Indicator Guide). The Language Access Index indicators included in the document are:
- 8. INCLUDE CLERK-COUNTER INTEPRETERS IN LANGUAGE ACCESS PLAN. Maintain a Language Access Plan to ensure that in areas in which a significant number of people speak languages other than English, clerk counter staff have resources available to assist with communication with LEP litigants?
- 9. REQUIRE INTERPRETERS AT SELF-HELP CENTERS. Require that self-help centers in areas in which a significant number of people speak languages other than English have present during all hours of operation either certified interpreters (where available) or bilingual staff fluent in commonly spoken languages?
- 12. TRANSLATE ON WEBSITE WHEN INTERPRETERS ARE PROVIDED. Explain on the state judiciary website the cases for which the state will provide certified interpreters, in the languages other than English that are commonly spoken by litigants?
- 14(A)(1-12). REQUIRE APPOINTED INTERPRETERS BE CERTIFIED, [X CASE TYPE]. Require certified interpreters (where available) for LEP parties in [X CASE TYPE]?
- 14(B)(1-12). REQUIRE INTERPRETERS BE FREE-OF-CHARGE, [X CASE TYPE]. Prohibit requiring payment (including fees, costs, or other expenses) for court-provided interpreters in [X CASE TYPE]?
- 15. TRANSLATE ON WEBSITE AVAILABILITY OF COURT FORMS. Describe on the state judiciary website, in languages (other than English) commonly spoken by litigants, the availability of self-help forms?
- 16. POST TRANSLATED COURT FORMS ON WEBSITE. Make electronic forms available on the state judiciary website in languages (other than English) commonly spoken by self-represented litigants?