New Court Access Initiatives for Non-English Speaking Persons
Released on 9/6/2013 10:42:38 AM


Cook County Circuit Court to provide over-the-phone interpretations; website now available in 71 foreign languages;
bi-lingual signage added


CHICAGO, IL, September 6, 2013—In an effort to bridge the gap between language barriers, the Circuit Court of Cook County is installing an over-the-phone interpretation service for persons who speak little or no English as part of its new Court Access Initiative (CAI). The service will help people navigate through the Circuit Court in a variety of ways: helping people without lawyers find courtrooms or linking them with a court-based legal self-help desk are just two examples. In conjunction with the Access to Justice Commission of the Illinois Supreme Court, the Circuit Court’s goal of the CAI is to improve the overall experience for non-English speaking people attending court.

Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced starting today, the CAI will begin at the Richard J. Daley Center information desks and then will ultimately be installed in all courthouses in the coming months. Illinois JusticeCorps volunteers already are stationed at the information desks and over-the-phone interpretation services will be provided by LanguageLine Solutions which was selected through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process.

“I applaud Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride for his leadership in creating the Access to Justice Commission to address ways in which we can help non-English speaking people to interact with the courts,” says Chief Judge Evans. Evans also credits the collaboration of Language Line Solutions, Illinois JusticeCorps volunteers, and the Circuit Court of Cook County as well as the Commission’s Language Access Committee, chaired by two Cook County judges, Honorable Grace G. Dickler, and Honorable Laura C. Liu, for their input.

Telephone interpretation service works via a three-way call on a specially programmed dual handset telephone. One receiver is used by staff to contact the vendor to request the appropriate foreign language; while staff remains on the line, the other receiver is used by the person requesting interpretation. Waiting time to connect to an interpreter is projected to be within 15 seconds of placing the call. There will be no charge to users. To see video demonstrating the equipment, go to
https://www.languageline.com/company/videos/.

In addition, the court also added Google Translate to the court’s website,
www.cookcountycourt.org, giving users the option to view the site in 71 foreign languages.

Other improvements that Chief Judge Evans and the judges of the Circuit Court of Cook County are planning throughout the court system before the end of the year to help non-English speaking persons include:
  • translation of all building signage into Spanish and Polish; and
  • provision of forms throughout the courthouses in English and foreign languages to assist non-English speakers in requesting an interpreter for a court proceeding.