Illinois Court Home Page > Access to Justice > Language Access Program

Ensuring equal access to the courts for individuals with language limitations is an important issue, especially in Illinois, which has a significant and growing number of people with Limited English Proficiency all across the state. As such, there is great need to promulgate statewide standards to promote language access for Limited English Proficient individuals, provide guidance to the judiciary and interpreters as to the role of interpreters, and require interpreters to have minimum levels of proficiency and skills.

To reach these goals, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts' (AOIC) Access to Justice Division has taken on a number of initiatives to assist the trial courts and ensure that Limited English Proficient individuals have equal access to Illinois courts. To learn more, please see the content below.

The AOIC maintains a Court Interpreter Registry (Registry) that lists certified and registered spoken language interpreters and sign language interpreters that have met certain training and testing requirements. More...

    This section provides the following resources for circuit courts and interpreters:

  • IL map illustrating language assistance services by county
  • Local and online training programs
  • Legal glossaries in several different languages
  • Self-study resources for interpreters
  • More...

The AOIC is overseeing the creation and implementation of Language Access Plans in each of the 24 judicial circuits of the state, based on a Plan template that was approved by the Illinois Supreme Court. Once a circuit court submits a Plan, it will be publicly available here.

The Illinois Supreme Court adopted a Language Access Policy and Code of Interpreter Ethics to provide guidance to the judiciary and develop a unified approach for the provision of statewide language access services in Illinois courts. More...

Contact Details

Sophia Akbar
Senior Program Manager
Language Access
sakbar@illinoiscourts.gov 
312-793-2013 (phone)
312-793-0740 (fax)

Alison D. Spanner
Assistant Director
aspanner@illinoiscourts.gov 
312-793-3859 (phone)
312-793-0740 (fax)

  • STEP ONE: PREPARE
  • STEP TWO: PASS
  • STEP THREE: ENROLL

    To assist the Illinois circuit courts with providing qualified interpreters, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) administers a statewide certification program for persons with native-like mastery of English and a second language. Certification requires attendance at an orientation and passing written and oral exams. For a detailed overview of the AOIC Language Access Program and the policies and procedures in place for the training and certification of interpreters, please review the Language Access Program Manual.

    AOIC Language Access Program Manual

     

    2019-2020 Certification program dates:

    2020 REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN

    To register, visit http://illinoiscourts.gov/courtapps and select “Language Interpreter Registration.” Please click here for step by step instructions on how to register online. The AOIC only accepts online payment for certification events.

    To view the 2019 orientation and testing dates, please click on the image below to view the Save the Date.

    Save the Date 2019 graphic

    To view the 2020 orientation and testing dates, please click on the image below to view the Save the Date.

    Save the Date 2020 graphic

    ORIENTATION

    To be placed on the AOIC Court Interpreter Registry, candidates must first attend a two-day orientation. The two-day orientation is open to any person at least 18 years of age with a native-like mastery of English and a second language. This orientation covers the interpreter’s role and professional ethics, the modes of interpreting used in court, legal terminology and court protocol. Candidates are expected to continue self-study before taking the written and oral exams. To view a sample orientation agenda, please click here.

    Sign language and deaf interpreters are only required to attend orientation and will not be tested by the AOIC. Candidates must submit proof of Advanced or Master's level licensure with the IDHHC to attend orientation.

     

    2019 ORIENTATION DATES AND LOCATIONS

    Please note that there are no more orientations scheduled for 2019 in Illinois. Our next scheduled orientation will be next March 2020, date TBD. You are welcome to attend an orientation at another state and receive credit for your attendance with our program. Please contact the program administrator in the state of your choice to find out additional details.  


    OPTIONAL SKILL BUILDING

    The AOIC offers optional skill building courses for those that have passed the written exam and are preparing for the oral exam or would like to improve their score. The dates and locations are TBD.

    To assess whether court interpreting is right for you, please review the NCSC Self-Assessment Tool.

    For resources, study materials, legal glossaries, and information on local and online training programs, please visit our Resources page!

     

     

     

    After completing the orientation, candidates may register to take the NCSC written exam. The 3-hour test covers English proficiency, legal terms, court protocol and ethical situations. Candidates must pass with a score of 80% or higher to be eligible to take an oral exam or oral proficiency interview.

    Candidates who have passed the written test may take the NCSC oral exam testing their skills in sight translation, consecutive, and simultaneous interpreting. The exam is offered in 22 languages. Candidates must pass with 70% or higher to be listed on the AOIC Court Interpreter Registry as "Certified." Candidates must pass with a 60% or higher to be listed as "Registered." Full oral exams are currently available in Cantonese, French, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Ilocano, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese. Abbreviated exams are  available in Arabic (Modern Standard) and Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian, Marshallese and Turkish.

    If you speak a language that is not offered by the NCSC oral exam, you may be able to take an oral proficiency interview (OPI), if available in your language. You must receive the highest score to be listed as "Qualified." The company that administers the OPIs is called ALTA. To see the list of languages available for an OPI, please click here.

    To register for a written exam, oral exam, or OPI, visit http://illinoiscourts.gov/courtapps and select “Language Interpreter Registration.” Please click here for step by step instructions on how to register online.

    Due to recent demand we have not scheduled events in Springfield this year, but the AOIC can make arrangements in Springfield for an orientation or for written and oral exams if there is sufficient demand.

    Please note that there are no more orientations scheduled for 2019 in Illinois. Our next scheduled orientation will be next March 2020, date TBD. You are welcome to attend an orientation at another state and receive credit for your attendance with our program. Please contact the program administrator in the state of your choice to find out additional details.

    WRITTEN EXAM DATES

    FEE: $50

    Chicago, IL
    September 26, 2019 1 – 4 p.m.
    Location TBD
    Registration deadline: September 23, 2019

    Registration for 2020 is now open, please click here to view the dates, fees and registration deadlines, and go to courtapps.illinoiscourts.gov to register.

    If you would like to test in Springfield, please contact the Sophia Akbar at sakbar@illinoiscourts.gov. Additional dates may be scheduled as needed.

    More information about the NCSC written exam

    ORAL EXAM DATES

    FEE: $225 for all languages

    LOCATION: All exams will take place at the AOIC Chicago Office, 222 N. LaSalle St., 13th floor, Chicago, IL. Exams can be scheduled in Springfield upon request.

     

    DATE
    REGISTRATION DEADLINE
    August 29, 2019 August 1, 2019
    October 24, 2019 October 1, 2019

    Registration is full for the August 29th and October 24th exams. Please email Noor Alawawda at nalawawda@illinoiscourts.gov to be added to the waiting list.

    Registration for 2020 is now open, please click here to view the dates, fees and registration deadlines, and go to courtapps.illinoiscourts.gov to register.

    Additional dates may be scheduled as needed.

    More information about the NCSC oral exam
    Information about the standards used to rate and score the oral exams
    Oral exam test agreement

    ORAL PROFICIENCY INTERVIEW (OPI) DATES

    FEE: $120 for all languages

    LOCATION: All exams take place over the phone. You will call a number provided by ALTA at a prescheduled date and time. You can use your personal cell phone or land line telephone for taking the exam.

    DATE: OPI exams are scheduled individually. Please contact sakbar@illinoiscourts.gov to schedule the exam at your convenience. You must contact the AOIC two weeks in advance of your desired date and time.

    More information about the OPI exam

    After passing the relevant exams, candidates will receive an application packet to become certified, qualified or registered with the Supreme Court of Illinois. Certified, qualified and registered foreign language interpreters and eligible sign language interpreters will be included on a statewide registry that is made available to all circuit courts in Illinois. Interpreter assignments are arranged at the county level by the court administrator or other court personnel on an as-needed basis.

    Reciprocity requirements: Foreign language interpreters that have completed portions of the foreign language certification process for other state courts, the federal courts, or have passed the NAJIT exam may be eligible for reciprocity. If you are eligible, please fill out the Application form for reciprocity. Please email, fax or mail the application and any supporting documentation as an email attachment to Sophia Akbar, AOIC Language Access Services Specialist at sakbar@illinoiscourts.gov or 312-793-1335 (fax). We will continue to accept reciprocity applications on a rolling basis.