The state Judicial Branch announced an addition to their website Thursday that provides help for Spanish, Portuguese and Polish speaking residents who need information but have limited English proficiency (LEP).
The changes to the website are an attempt addressing language barriers in the court system.
“The LEP population is a big access issue for the Judicial Branch. We are always looking into new ways to reach them,” said Judicial Branch spokeswoman Rhonda Hebert.
The site has had limited information available to Spanish speaking residents for some time but over the past two months more was added along with additional languages, she said.
It now offers information including frequently asked questions, Judicial Branch policies regarding English proficiency and resources, which include statistics on requests and previously Spanish translated pages, according to a press release.
“A large number of LEP individuals use our courts daily, in a variety of ways,” said Chief Court Administrator Barbara M. Quinn in a statement. “We have a legal responsibility to make sure that their ability to communicate and to understand what’s occurring is not compromised. But as important, it’s the right thing to do.”
The new sections of the website came at no additional cost to the branch, with all of the work being done internally with the help of the permanent translator positions, Hebert said.
Hebert said there were 38 permanent translators on staff at the Judicial Branch as of May, but she could not comment on the most recent translator staff numbers, but added often they have contracts with outside translators to provide additional services.
Hebert said the Polish, Spanish and Portuguese are “the top requested languages” for assistance throughout the Judicial Branch, which prompted their decision to add the new section of the site.
According to request statistics in the new section, last year there were 42,195 requests of Spanish interpreter service, 1,956 for Portuguese interpreter service and 1,085 for Polish interpreter services.
While there are frequent requests for other languages like French, which received 556 interpreter requests last year, Hebert said there are no formal plans as of yet to expand the section to include other languages.