Use this lifeline before calling Language Line
A man walks into a court office, politely waits his turn, and then speaks in a language no one has ever heard. Now what?
The police arrest a woman on suspicion of shoplifting. She is unable to read, write, or speak English. How will the judge conduct the initial hearing?
In both of these situations, before calling Language Line or using an in-person language interpreter, court staff must correctly identify the language to be interpreted. Indiana courts now have a tool to eliminate guesswork—the “I Speak” Language Identification Cards.
In 2014, more than two hundred thirty Indiana trial courts requested interpreters. Modeled on guides used by various law enforcement and victim services agencies around the United States, the cards contain the phrase “I speak [name of language]” in eighty different world languages plus ten indigenous dialects of Central America.
Resources such as the “ISpeak” cards help court staff, judges, and clerks save time and money by allowing the limited English proficient individual to quickly indicate the proper language for which interpretation is necessary. This resource will also enhance the overall fairness of court proceedings.
Marion County Superior Court Judge Jose Salinas, who chairs the Commission on Race and Gender Fairness’ Court Interpreter Program Advisory Committee, successfully applied for a grant in the summer of 2015. The grant funded the design, printing, and distribution of a set of ten cards for each trial court, and one card for every law enforcement officer in the state. The cards are small enough to fit into the pocket of a police officer’s uniform.
Anyone may download a PDF of the Language Identification Guide by going to the Court’s website.