In response to the growing numbers of non-English speakers in North Carolina, the NC Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) secured grant funds in 2000 through 2005 to enhance access to justice in the courts for all non-English speakers, with an emphasis on the Spanish speaking population. Grant sources included the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation ($100,000), the North Carolina State Bar ($69,316), and the Governor's Crime Commission (GCC). Guidance for the Foreign Language Services Project began with creating the Foreign Language Advisory Committee, hiring a coordinator, and joining the Consortium for Language Access in the Courts, formerly the National Center for State Court's Consortium for State Court Interpreter Certification. The Interpreting Services Program is now under the Court Programs Division of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts and provides support and guidance to the NC court system statewide, as well as to the court interpreters who are providing their specialized services to the courts.
Court Interpreter Certification
In many courtrooms, court officials have no way of knowing if an interpreter possesses the linguistic and interpreting skills to interpret for a victim, witness, or defendant with limited English proficiency. Through an objective written and oral testing procedure, required ethics professionalism training, and registration requirements, the NCAOC is better able to guarantee the quality of interpreting services and professionalism of court interpreters providing services across the state. North Carolina offers state court interpreter certification in the following French, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Ilocano, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese. Interpreters interested in pursuing state certification as a court interpreter should refer to the information provided in the link Becoming a NC Court Interpreter. Additional information regarding the design and administration of the oral certification examination is included in the Overview of the Oral Performance Examination for Prospective Court Interpreters.
Forms are an important part of the court process and failure to understand and complete them correctly can delay proceedings. For this reason, the program has translated and distributed a variety of criminal, civil, domestic violence and special bilingual forms. Over 50 bilingual court forms are in print at this time.
ASL and Other ADA Accommodations
The Language Access Services also provides assistance and information concerning ASL interpreters and other accommodations for the deaf and hearing impaired.
The program continues to meet the needs of court officials around the State by providing the courts with qualified court interpreters, developing polices and best practices with regards to the provision and efficient use of interpreting services, and providing daily support for questions, concerns and issues involving interpreting and translating services. Please direct any questions regarding the Language Access Services to a staff member.