How Can We Solve Court Interpreter Shortages in 2022?

by | Apr 11, 2022

Everyone who is a participant within the court of law or any other type of legal setting has the right to understand what is taking place during the proceedings no matter the language they speak. This is where the court or legal interpreters come in. But did you know we face a serious court interpreter shortage?

Court interpreters play a vital role in assisting both the prosecution and the accused so that a fair and just outcome takes place. A prevailing problem that many courtrooms face, however, is a shortage of legal and qualified interpreters. Our Day Interpreting blog is here to explore some ways in which we can solve this shortage.


The Case of the Mixtec Language and Court Interpreters

The State of California in the United States of America has a serious court interpreter shortage. This has been going on for a few years. What makes this state stand out from the rest has a lot to do with the large immigrant population within the state.

In general, there is a shortage of court interpreters right around the country. But California has become a place of interest due to the lack of interpreters who speak the Mixtec language.

Mixtec is an ancient language that has its origins in Columbia. It also has as many as 50 variations that can be either very closely related or have very great differences. Today the Mixtec language is mostly spoken in the very rural and mountainous areas of Mexico such as the Oaxaca region.

With this in mind, you can see where the problem arises.  There are people within the court system who speak Mixtec. And there are either little to no interpreters who speak this language or the many variations of it. In some cases, there has to be more than one interpreter just for a single case. This is because there needs to be someone there translating from Mixteco to Spanish and then from Spanish to English.

Problems Aside from Mixtec

Apart from the shortage of interpreters for the Mixtec language, there are only approximately 9 full-time interpreters that serve a single county in California. Courts don’t have their own interpreters on a full-time basis. In addition to this, there are over 220 languages spoken in the state of California alone.

Another reason for the shortage has to do with how taxing it can be to acquire certification for the court system. Now, couple this with the reportedly very low compensation rates that court interpreters receive in the state. And you’ve got an even greater problem in linguistic legal services. Therefore the problem also lies in finding enough qualified interpreters who speak all the languages that are spoken in the state.


The Solution 

A prevailing and proven solution to the interpreter shortage in the court system in 2022 is establishing remote court interpreting services. Since 2020, remote interpreting has taken its rightful place as the preferred method for interpreting services.

With remote interpreting, physical barriers are no longer an issue. Travel time is removed. Distance does not come into play. And accessibility is increased significantly. Virtual hearings have proven to be extremely efficient. And working with interpreters in an online setting also proved to be a seamless and effective process as well.

The only drawback that may take place with implementing remote interpreting is the fact that court interpreters need to be certified by the state. They also need to have knowledge of each state’s laws and regulations. The same may be true for court interpreters all over the world. This therefore may be a drawback but it doesn’t mean that there’s a roadblock.

Other solutions include making court interpreter certifications easier to acquire. Paying higher wages to interpreters for the very important work that they do is also a solution.

Of course, solving the problem of this type of shortage is going to take a very long time. Awareness campaigns must be put in place as well as attractive incentives given to those who may be interested in taking on a career in court interpreting. The pathways that are available to become a court interpreter also need to be updated and made accessible to all.


Wrapping Up

Court interpreters do important work every time they are called upon to work. When there is a shortage, it slows down the flow of work within the judicial system. This then causes a backlog and justice not being served. The possibility of not having a fair trial also rears its ugly head when there is a shortage of interpreters who are needed for each hearing.

Where possible, our team at Day Interpreting can help. We have an amazing group of legal interpreters who are well trained and ready to play their part in ensuring that justice is served. Don’t hesitate to contact us today.

Of course, we offer our services for other purposes as well and we also have a mobile app to help make your experience even better. So what are you waiting for to get started? We’re ready and waiting to help you.

Kayan Milwood
Kayan Milwood

Kayan is a multi-talented writer based in the beautiful island of Jamaica. Her strong point is ideation and she loves to take on new challenges.

Kayan Milwood

Kayan is a multi-talented writer based in the beautiful island of Jamaica. Her strong point is ideation and she loves to take on new challenges.

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