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Shortage of Court Interpreters

Friday, January 21st, 2011

There are approximately 2,500 certified court interpreters in the United States, of which only 500 translate from languages other than Spanish, stated Isabel Framer, President of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT), in an article for El Universo.

The need for certified court interpreters in a foreign language has doubled in the last decade. All states are facing an acute shortage of court interpreters, according to professionals working in the field. The demand for these services appeared suddenly and took everyone by surprise, said Wanda Romberger, Director of judicial interpretation at the National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Virginia.

Professionals in the legal field are also concerned and trying to find a solution to this problem, consequence of the rapid diversification of the population. State court processes and immigration are at the root of this problem. All immigrants have a constitutional right to receive equal treatment in a court of law, regardless of their mother tongue.

There is a multistate partnership founded in 1995, dedicated to dealing with issues of interpreters’ certification and related problems, which confirm the growing demand for this type of translators. The effort to address these problems began in 1995 with four states and the focus was on the Spanish language. There are now 40 states and the association manages tests in 16 languages, with pressure to diversify further.

This is a field that still has much to offer for translators who live in the United States, especially for Latino translators.

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