Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Court Language Interpreters Test Their Skills

In continuing effort to guarantee language access in Ohio’s judicial system, the Supreme Court of Ohio this week administered oral tests to more than 20 candidates in the languages of Spanish, Arabic, Bosnian, Cantonese, and Mandarin.

The Supreme Court began certifying court interpreters in 2010, when the court adopted new rules. Next year Ohio courts will be required to use a certified foreign language or sign language interpreter, when available, to ensure the “meaningful participation” of deaf and limited English proficient individuals in court proceedings.

The candidates who took the oral test will also have to pass a written test and attend an orientation training session on interpreting and addressing ethics, legal procedures and terminology, and other related topics.

This is the second testing cycle for court interpreters this year.  In all there were 71 candidates who applied to become a court certified interpreter in 2012. Of those, 32 passed the written exam, 27 failed, and 11 withdrew from the program. The 16 candidates who passed the second cycle find out if they passed the oral exam on December 28, 2012. Five candidates in the first cycle became certified (four Spanish, one French) and two became provisional in Spanish.

Bruno Romero, the Supreme Court’s interpreter services program manager, said the testing cycle is rigorous.

“The knowledge and skills required to pass the exam are best learned in an academic environment where substantive learning can take place and candidates can receive continuous assessment and work on prerequisites  before they progress,” Romero said. 

Ohio courts handle more than 25,000 cases per year that require a court interpreter, and the certification ensures that interpreters working in the courts meet the minimum standards of language fluency and makes it possible for courts to provide the most qualified interpreters.