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

     

    2017 Certification program dates:

    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.

    To view the 2017 orientation and testing dates, please click on the image to view the Save the Date.

    ORIENTATION

    To be placed on the AOIC Court Interpreter Registry, candidates must first attend a two-day orientation. The two-day orientation is open to any person at least 18 years of age with a native-like mastery of English and a second language. This orientation covers the interpreter’s role and professional ethics, the modes of interpreting used in court, legal terminology and court protocol. Candidates are expected to continue self-study before taking the written and oral exams. To view a sample orientation agenda, please click here.

    Sign language and deaf interpreters are only required to attend orientation and will not be tested by the AOIC. Candidates must submit proof of Advanced or Master's level licensure with the IDHHC to attend orientation.

    Due to recent demand we have not scheduled events in Springfield this year, but the AOIC can make arrangements in Springfield for an orientation or for written and oral exams if there is sufficient demand.

     

    2017 ORIENTATION DATES AND LOCATIONS

     

    Chicago, IL
    Chicago, IL
    March 9-10, 2017
    August 3-4, 2017
    Location TBA
    Location TBA
    Registration deadline: February 26, 2017
    Registration deadline: July 23, 2017

     

     

    OPTIONAL SKILL BUILDING
    The AOIC offers optional skill building courses for those that have passed the written exam and are preparing for the oral exam or would like to improve their score. The dates and locations are TBD.

    To assess whether court interpreting is right for you, please review the NCSC Self-Assessment Tool.

    For resources, study materials, legal glossaries, and information on local and online training programs, please visit our Resources page!

     

     

     

     

    After completing the orientation, candidates may register to take the NCSC written exam. The 3-hour test covers English proficiency, legal terms, court protocol and ethical situations. Candidates must pass with a score of 80% or higher to be eligible to take an oral exam or oral proficiency interview.

    Candidates who have passed the written test may take the NCSC oral exam testing their skills in sight translation, consecutive, and simultaneous interpreting. The exam is offered in 22 languages. Candidates must pass with 70% or higher to be listed on the AOIC Court Interpreter Registry as "Certified." Candidates must pass with a 60% or higher to be listed as "Registered." Full oral exams are currently available in Cantonese, French, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Ilocano, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese. Abbreviated exams are  available in Arabic (Modern Standard) and Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian, Marshallese and Turkish.

    If you speak a language that is not offered by the NCSC oral exam, you may be able to take an oral proficiency interview (OPI), if available in your language. You must receive the highest score to be listed as "Qualified." The company that administers the OPIs is called ALTA. To see the list of languages available for an OPI, please click here.

    To register for a written exam, oral exam, or OPI, visit http://illinoiscourts.gov/courtapps and select “Language Interpreter Registration.” Please click here for step by step instructions on how to register online.

    Due to recent demand we have not scheduled events in Springfield this year, but the AOIC can make arrangements in Springfield for an orientation or for written and oral exams if there is sufficient demand.

     

    WRITTEN EXAM DATES        

    FEE: $50                                                                                                                            

     

    Chicago, IL
    Chicago, IL
    December 2, 2016, 1-4pm
    March 3rd, 2017, 1-4pm
    222 N. LaSalle, 13th Floor
    James R. Thompson Center
    Chicago, IL 60601
    100 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL
    Registration deadline: Nov. 28th, 2016
    Registration deadline: Feb. 27, 2017
       
    Chicago, IL Chicago, IL
    April 21, 2017 August 25, 2017
    222 N. LaSalle, 13th Floor 222 N. LaSalle, 13th Floor
    Chicago, IL 60601 Chicago, IL 60601
    Registration deadline: April 17, 2017 Registration deadline: August 20, 2017

     

    Additional dates may be scheduled as needed.

    More information about the NCSC written exam


    ORAL EXAM DATES

    FEE: $170 for Spanish, $200 for all other languages

    LOCATION: All exams will take place at the AOIC Chicago Office, 222 N. LaSalle St., 13th floor, Chicago, IL

     

    DATE
    REGISTRATION DEADLINE
    January 20, 2017 January 1, 2017
    February 9, 2017 February 1, 2017
    March 24, 2017 March 1, 2017
    March 31, 2017 March 1, 2017
    May 19, 2017 May 1, 2017
    June 23, 2017 June 1, 2017
    July 28, 2017 July 1, 2017
    September 22, 2017 September 1, 2017
       

    Additional dates may be scheduled as needed.

    More information about the NCSC oral exam
    Information about the standards used to rate and score the oral exams

     

    ORAL PROFICIENCY INTERVIEW (OPI) DATES

    FEE: $120 for all languages

    LOCATION: All exams take place over the phone. You will call a number provided by ALTA at a prescheduled date and time. You can use your personal cell phone or land line telephone for taking the exam.

     

    DATE
    REGISTRATION DEADLINE
    January 13, 2017 January 1, 2017
    February 10, 2017 February 1, 2017
    March 10, 2017 March 1, 2017
    April 14, 2017 April 1, 2017
    May 12, 2017 May 1, 2017
    June 9, 2017 June 1, 2017
    July 14, 2017 July 1, 2017
    August 11, 2017 August 1, 2017
    September 8, 2017 September 1, 2017
    October 13, 2017 October 1, 2017
    November 10, 2017 November 1, 2017
    December 8, 2017 December 1, 2017

     

    After passing the relevant exams, candidates will receive an application packet to become certified, qualified or registered with the Supreme Court of Illinois. Certified, qualified 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.

    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.