Illinois Court Home Page > Access to Justice > Language Access Program

Ensuring equal access to the courts for individuals with language limitations is an important issue, especially in Illinois, which has a significant and growing number of people with Limited English Proficiency all across the state. As such, there is great need to promulgate statewide standards to promote language access for Limited English Proficient individuals, provide guidance to the judiciary and interpreters as to the role of interpreters, and require interpreters to have minimum levels of proficiency and skills.

To reach these goals, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts' (AOIC) Civil Justice Division has taken on a number of initiatives to assist the trial courts and ensure that Limited English Proficient individuals have equal access to Illinois courts. To learn more, please see the content below.

 


The AOIC maintains a Court Interpreter Registry (Registry) that lists certified and registered spoken language interpreters and sign language interpreters that have met certain training and testing requirements. More...

    This section provides the following resources for circuit courts and interpreters:

  • IL map illustrating language assistance services by county
  • Legal glossaries in several different languages
  • Self-study resources for interpreters
  • Information from the 2014 AOIC Regional Meetings
  • More...

The AOIC is overseeing the creation and implementation of Language Access Plans in each of the 24 judicial circuits of the state, based on a Plan template that was approved by the Illinois Supreme Court. Once a circuit court submits a Plan, it will be publicly available here.

The Illinois Supreme Court adopted a Language Access Policy and Code of Interpreter Ethics to provide guidance to the judiciary and develop a unified approach for the provision of statewide language access services in Illinois courts. More...

Contact Details

Sophia Akbar, Language Access Services Specialist
sakbar@illinoiscourts.gov 
312-793-2013 (phone)
312-793-0740 (fax)

Danielle Hirsch, Assistant Director, Civil Justice Division
dhirsch@illlinoiscourts.gov 
312-793-2014 (phone)
312-793-0740 (fax)

  • STEP ONE: PREPARE
  • STEP TWO: PASS
  • STEP THREE: ENROLL

    To assist the Illinois circuit courts with providing qualified interpreters, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) administers a statewide certification program for persons with native-like mastery of English and a second language. Certification requires attendance at an orientation and passing written and oral exams. For a detailed overview of the AOIC Language Access Program and the policies and procedures in place for the training and certification of interpreters, please review the Language Access Program Manual.

    AOIC Language Access Program Manual

     

    2016 Certification program dates:

    ONLINE REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN. To register, visit http://illinoiscourts.gov/courtapps and select “Language Interpreter Registration.” Please
    click here for step by step instructions on how to register online. The AOIC now only accepts online payment for certification events.

    The 2016 dates for orientation and testing have been announced, please click on the image to view the Save the Date. To register, please see below to fill out the registration form for the event you would like to sign up for.

    ORIENTATION

    Please note that if you have already attended a two-day orientation in Illinois, you do not have to attend another orientation. Sign language interpreters seeking to be included on the AOIC Registry are welcome to attend either orientation.

    ONLINE REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN. To register, visit http://illinoiscourts.gov/courtapps and select “Language Interpreter Registration.” Please click here for step by step instructions on how to register online. The AOIC now only accepts online payment for certification events.

    Sample Orientation Agenda - 2016 sample agenda not yet available

     

    Chicago, IL
    Springfield, IL
    April 14-15, 2016
    August 11-12, 2016
    TBA
    AOIC Springfield, 3101 Old Jacksonville Rd
    Registration deadline: April 1, 2016
    Registration deadline: July 29, 2016

     

    WRITTEN EXAM

    Please note that you can only sign up for the written exam if you have attended a two-day orientation in Illinois. If you are not eligible, your application will not be accepted.

    ONLINE REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN. To register, visit http://illinoiscourts.gov/courtapps and select “Language Interpreter Registration.” Please click here for step by step instructions on how to register online. The AOIC now only accepts online payment for certification events.

     

    Chicago, IL
    Springfield, IL
    May 13th, 2016, 2-5pm
    September 16th, 2016, 1-4pm
    James R. Thompson Center
    AOIC Springfield Office
    100 W. Randolph St. Rm. 9-040
    3101 Old Jacksonville Rd
    Registration deadline: May 6th, 2016
    Registration deadline: September 9th, 2016
       

     

    SKILL BUILDING

    Please note that you may only sign up for the optional skill building if you have already passed the written exam.

     

    Chicago, IL
    Chicago, IL
    March 3-4, 2016
    June 2-3, 2016
    222 N. LaSalle, 13th Floor
    222 N. LaSalle, 13th Floor
    Chicago, IL 60601
    Chicago, IL 60601
    Registration deadline: February 19, 2016
    Registration deadline: May 20, 2016
     
     

     

    ORAL EXAM

    Please note that you can only sign up for the oral exam if you have attended a two-day orientation and passed the written exam with a score of 80% or higher. Oral exams are only available in select languages; please see the Save-the-Date. If you are not eligible, your application will not be accepted. For those that have already taken the oral exam but did not pass, oral exam retakes will be scheduled by appointment.

    ONLINE REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN. To register, visit http://illinoiscourts.gov/courtapps and select “Language Interpreter Registration.” Please click here for step by step instructions on how to register online. The AOIC now only accepts online payment for certification events.

    Chicago, IL
    Chicago, IL
    April 22, 2016
    July 15, 2016
    AOIC Chicago Office
    AOIC Chicago Office
    222 N. LaSalle St., 13th floor
    222 N. LaSalle St., 13th floor
    Registration deadline: April 8th, 2016
    Registration deadline: July 1st, 2016
     
     
    Chicago, IL
    Springfield, IL
    July 22, 2016
    October 28th, 2016
    AOIC Chicago Office
    AOIC Springfield Office
    222 N. LaSalle St., 13th floor
    3101 Old Jacksonville Rd
    Registration deadline: July 1st, 2016
    Registration deadline: October 14th, 2016

     

     

    Reciprocity requirements: Foreign language interpreters that have completed portions of the foreign language certification process for other state courts, the federal courts, or have passed the NAJIT exam may be eligible for reciprocity. If you are eligible, please fill out the Application form for reciprocity. Please email, fax or mail the application and any supporting documentation as an email attachment to Sophia Akbar, AOIC Language Access Services Specialist at sakbar@illinoiscourts.gov or 312-793-1335 (fax). We will continue to accept reciprocity applications on a rolling basis.

    Application form for reciprocity

    Requirements for sign language interpreters: Sign language interpreters that have "Advanced" or "Master" level licenses with the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission are eligible for being listed on the AOIC interpreter registry, provided that certain training and criminal background check requirements are met.

    ONLINE REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN. To register, visit http://illinoiscourts.gov/courtapps and select “Language Interpreter Registration.” Please click here for step by step instructions on how to register online. The AOIC now only accepts online payment for certification events. Please check the Save the Date for more details.

    Resources: The following resources may assist in developing the skills necessary for court interpreting:

    NCSC Self-Assessment Tool
    NCSC study tool and practice exam kits
    Consecutive interpreting exercises
    Simultaneous interpreting exercise
    Sight translation exercises

     

     

     

    To be a certified court interpreter in Illinois and listed on the AOIC Registry, candidates must attend orientation, pass both the written and oral components of the National Center for State Courts' (NCSC) interpreter exams and undergo a criminal background check.

    To be a registered court interpreter in Illinois and listed on the AOIC Registry, candidates must attend orientation and pass the written exam only.

    Written exam information                                                                                                                                   

    The written examination tests for English proficiency and familiarity with court interpreter ethics, legal terminology and court procedure. The written exam fee is $50. The exam consists of 135 questions and is divided into three parts: 1) English language, 2) Court-related terms and Usage and 3) Ethics and Professional Conduct. Please see the 2016 Save the Date for available dates for the written examination and registration deadlines.

    ONLINE REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN. To register, visit http://illinoiscourts.gov/courtapps and select “Language Interpreter Registration.” Please click here for step by step instructions on how to register online. The AOIC now only accepts online payment for certification events.

     

    Chicago, IL
    Springfield, IL
    May 13th, 2016, 2-5pm
    September 16th, 2016, 1-4pm
    James R. Thompson Center
    AOIC Springfield Office
    100 W. Randolph St. Rm. 9-040
    3101 Old Jacksonville Rd
    Registration deadline: May 6th, 2016
    Registration deadline: September 9th, 2016
       

     

    More information about the NCSC written exam


    Oral examination information

    The oral examination assesses interpreting skills in both English and the foreign language in three basic modes: consecutive interpreting, simultaneous interpreting, and sight translation. The oral exam fee depends on the language (usually between $200 and $400). Currently, the oral exam is only available in 20 languages. Please check the program manual or a listing of available languages or the NCSC website. Candidates that have applied for reciprocity and have taken the written exam in other states are also eligible to sign up for the oral exam in Illinois.

    ONLINE REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN. To register, visit http://illinoiscourts.gov/courtapps and select “Language Interpreter Registration.” Please click here for step by step instructions on how to register online. The AOIC now only accepts online payment for certification events.

     

    Chicago, IL
    Chicago, IL
    April 22, 2016
    July 15, 2016
    AOIC Chicago Office
    AOIC Chicago Office
    222 N. LaSalle St., 13th floor
    222 N. LaSalle St., 13th floor
    Registration deadline: April 8th, 2016
    Registration deadline: July 1st, 2016
     
     
    Chicago, IL
    Springfield, IL
    July 22, 2016
    October 28th, 2016
    AOIC Chicago Office
    AOIC Springfield Office
    222 N. LaSalle St., 13th floor
    3101 Old Jacksonville Rd
    Registration deadline: July 1st, 2016
    Registration deadline: October 14th, 2016

     

    More information about the NCSC oral exam
    NCSC oral exams ready for administration by language
    Information about the standards used to rate and score the oral exams

     

    After passing the relevant exams, candidates will receive an application packet to become certified or registered with the Supreme Court of Illinois. Certified and registered foreign language interpreters and eligible sign language interpreters will be included on a statewide registry that is made available to all circuit courts in Illinois. Interpreter assignments are arranged at the county level by the court administrator or other court personnel on an as-needed basis.