HARRISBURG (March 28, 2017) – Pennsylvania Bar Association President Sara A. Austin today applauded the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s adoption of a comprehensive plan to improve access to justice for those with limited English proficiency and those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
“The Pennsylvania Bar Association has long supported efforts to increase access to the courts for those who have historically faced language and physical barriers,” said Austin. “More than a million individuals in Pennsylvania may require language assistance when interacting with the judicial system. The need to increase access is well known, and this plan to provide language services builds greater trust and confidence in our courts.”
The PBA’s support of greater court access dates back to 1994 when the PBA formally approved a call for courts to provide interpreters. Since that time, a number of PBA committees have developed reports and recommendations that have been provided to the Supreme Court for consideration and review.
The Supreme Court’s plan lays the groundwork for increased language access training and data collection procedures for Pennsylvania’s 60 judicial districts. The plan also requires judicial districts to increase the availability of translated local court forms and signage and to make language interpreters available to those with limited English proficiency and those who are deaf or hard of hearing. In addition, the plan includes methods to identify the need for language services early in the judicial process and calls for the development of a procedure to monitor language access complaints and implementation of the Language Action Plan.
The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania Language Access Plan is located on the court’s website: http://www.pacourts.us/assets/files/setting-5486/file-5972.pdf?cb=dbfe20
Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association exists to promote justice, professional excellence and respect of the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access to legal services; and serve the 27,000 lawyers who are members of the association.