Nebraska Courts Facing Interpreter Shortage

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Nebraska Courts Facing Interpreter Shortage

Nebraska judicial leaders are struggling to meet an increasing need for certified court interpreters. Although all states are dealing with a shortage of court interpreters, the challenges may have developed more quickly in states such as Nebraska where populations, until recently, were not as diverse and where fewer interpreters are available. Wanda Romberger, manager of court interpreting services at the National Center for State Courts, says the problem took many states by surprise. There are approximately 2,500 credentialed court interpreters nationwide, but only about 500 work in languages other than Spanish. National Association of Judicial Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) Chairwoman Isabel Framer says the continued use of non-certified interpreters is problematic, as even a highly educated bilingual interpreter may not have the skills needed to work in a court setting. In 2007 more than 60 percent of court interpreting in Nebraska was handled by non-certified interpreters, according to the Nebraska Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the number of people in Nebraska speaking a language other than English at home has increased to an estimated 9 percent. Despite such challenges, Nebraska has made improvements, according to Nebraska Supreme Court Justice John Gerrard. Gerrard says a pilot project that uses videoconferencing to connect with certified interpreters could help the state provide better services and save money.

From "Nebraska Courts Facing Interpreter Shortage"
Associated Press (09/28/08) Ortiz, Jean

Source: ATA Newsbriefs - October 2008


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Demand for Interpreters Grows in Nebraska

Interpreting services are consuming an increasingly larger portion of Nebraska's court budget because of the growth in the diversity of the state's population. The 2008 U.S. Census estimates that Nebraska's Hispanic population has grown by 49 percent since 2000, while approximately 9 percent of the state's population speaks a non-English language in their homes. In 2008, interpreting services cost Nebraska's courts more than $1 million for the recruitment of 160 interpreters fluent in 21 languages. Court officials are seeking cost-cutting measures so they can afford to hire and train more interpreters. Sheryl Connolly, an interpreter services coordinator for the state court system, says that one cost-effective strategy is remote interpreting using a combination of laptop computers, Web cameras, and Internet conferencing technology. Nebraska has attempted to guarantee the quality of court interpreters by offering a certification program. The state currently has 17 certified interpreters, all of whom speak Spanish. Speakers of other languages must depend on uncertified interpreters. Many court interpreters live in population centers such as Lincoln and Omaha, where college-level language courses are more accessible.

From "Demand for Interpreters Grows"
Omaha World-Herald (NE) (06/15/09) Pascale, Jordan

Source: ATA Newsbriefs - June 2009



 

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