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Illinois Courts Response to COVID-19

Find a Language Interpreter/Language Access Program | State of Illinois Office of the Illinois Courts

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) Access to 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.

AOIC Language Access Registry

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.

Language Access Plans

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.

Illinois Supreme Court Language Access Policy and Code of Interpreter Ethics

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...

Scholarship to Cover the Cost of the Interpreter Certification Process

The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) is pleased to announce a new scholarship for those interested in becoming certified court interpreters in Illinois. The AOIC recognizes the importance that skilled court interpreters play in the justice system and the courts very high need for qualified interpreters. This scholarship presents a wonderful opportunity to expand the number of certified court interpreters working throughout the state.

This scholarship would cover the cost of the three-step certification process through the Illinois Language Access Program. This includes a two-day orientation ($200), a written exam ($50), and an oral exam ($225) or an oral proficiency interview (OPI)($130) for languages where an oral exam is not available. Additionally, this scholarship will cover 50% of the costs for retakes for both the written and/or oral exam or OPI. This scholarship will be offered to 5 individuals per year. To qualify for this scholarship, individuals must be at least 18 years or older, reside in Illinois and make less than $50,000 a year. Proof of income is required.

Individuals who have already began the Language Access Certification Program are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Previous costs paid will not be reimbursable, but exams moving forward will be covered by the AOIC if selected.

For those interested in applying for this scholarship, an application must be completed, along with supplemental materials attached. Please reach out to Noor Alawawda, nalawawda@illinoiscourts.gov, with any questions.


PROGRAM SUMMARY COURT TYPE SUMMARY
Total Interpretations: 44,917 Criminal Court: 36,033
% of interpretations by registered or certified interpreter: 52.86% Civil Court: 6,492
% of interpretations by phone or video: 60.4% Annexed Court: 2,392
80% of all interpretations were criminal and 15% civil proceedings. Spanish was the most common language need at 92%. Polish was the second most requested language at 2%. Smaller languages in Cook County, such as Mandarin, Arabic, French, Vietnamese, Ukrainian and Russian were also prevalent. American Sign Language was also noted in the interpretation statistics as well.

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Contact Details

For additional help with these topic, please contact us below.

Noor Alawawda
Senior Program Manager, Language Access
nalawawda@illinoiscourts.gov
 (312) 793-6181
 (312) 793-0740

Alison D. Spanner
Assistant Director
aspanner@illinoiscourts.gov
 (312) 793-3859
 (312) 793-0740