Telephone Legal Interpreter Services
Telephone interpreting can be used with success in some legal settings, but interpreters and end-users alike should be trained in the appropriate way to utilize such services.
Proper equipment is essential to ensure audibility and accuracy. In any legal or quasi-legal proceeding involving individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP), interpreted communication guarantees rights and equal access to justice. Thus, it is essential that interpretation provided over the telephone be of the same standard as “in-person” interpretation. Prior training and orientation for the interpreter are needed for high-quality service to be effectively delivered over the telephone.
Once telephone interpreting was implemented more widely, some concerns arose:
• Specialization. Interpreters accessed through commercial services were not necessarily specialists in legal interpreting. However, there were non-specialists providing services in person as well, due to a national shortage of certified or otherwise qualified interpreters in many locations.
• Connection quality. Poor quality connections led remote interpreters to make mistakes or request frequent repetitions, resulting in a cumbersome and inefficient process. However, telephone service enabled courts to meet demands where local resources were absent.
• Costs. When used for long periods, telephone interpreting was costly. However, still more cost-effective than on-site interpreters. Especially for sessions of short duration
• Lack of visual cues. Over the phone, there are no non-verbal cues; but some claimed the lack of distraction helped interpreters to focus more effectively on the spoken language.
Today, the use of telephone interpreting in legal settings has become common. In 2007, the federal courts’ telephone interpreting program was used by 48 district courts to provide services for more than 3,600 events in 38 languages. By the end of fiscal year 2008, the program had reportedly saved $6.8 million in travel and contract costs. State and county courts continue to use in-house or commercial telephone interpreting services.
Telephone interpreters ensure that there is always a solution for Limited English Speakers. In the past, when an onsite interpreter was unavailable, the appointment was rescheduled or would continue without aid. This is costly and detrimental to Limited English Speaker.
In conclusion, Telephone interpreters might not bee able to completely replace the presence and used of a physical on-site interpreter. However, It is a beneficial and cost effective addition to any legal proceeding.