The Office of Court Interpreting Services (OCIS) assists persons having business with the District of Columbia Courts who are Deaf and hard of hearing or who are less than proficient in English. The OCIS provides qualified professional interpreting services for all languages.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq. and the Safe Streets Act of 1968, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 3789d(c), both prohibit national origin discrimination by recipients of federal financial assistance, including the DC Courts. As part of the District of Columbia Courts Strategic Plan, the OCIS strives to provide services to people that are less than proficient in English to ensure access to justice.
Services for the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired
In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) the court provides equal access and reasonable accommodations in judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings and related services to all deaf and hard-of-hearing persons.
The OCIS does not schedule real-time captioning, or “CART”, services. Instead, please contact:
(202) 879-1036 firstname.lastname@example.org
The OCIS also engages the services of specialized interpreters who are Deaf. These relay, or intermediary interpreters, are specialists used in situations where the deaf person has special linguistic needs beyond the scope of conventional interpretation.
The OCIS also will provide a roster of interpreters for specific languages upon request for matters outside the scope of the court's services, such as depositions, attorney/client conferences, tape transcriptions, translations, and other pre-trial preparations. Criminal Justice Act panel attorneys should check the CJA Web Voucher system for a list of registered interpreters that could provide these services.
Court interpreters are experts in language and are assigned only to render linguistically equivalent interpretation from one language into another. They are not parties to a case, have no interest in any case, and remain completely neutral in all matters. They work for the court and do not represent any party. A court interpreter's sole responsibility is to bridge the communication barrier necessitating his or her presence.
Obtaining Interpreting Services
In order to obtain interpreting services, a court user, party, or party's attorney should contact the OCIS, preferably two weeks or more before the date the service is needed. It is important that the OCIS receive ample notice since the number of available interpreters is limited. The request should include information regarding the name of the case and case number, the number of parties, any regional dialect, duration of the proceeding and any other pertinent or special need.
Sign interpreters wishing to work for the Office of Court Interpreting Services should possess certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc.: Specialist Certificate: Legal, National Interpreter Certification or Certificate of Interpreting/Certificate of Transliterating with legal interpreting experience. Oral interpreters should possess some level of oral interpretation certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. Résumés, proof of certification and letters of interest may be sent to: James W. Plunkett, III, Coordinator of Interpreting Services, Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Room 3127, 500 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001.
OCIS contracts interpreters certified by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. OCIS also accepts interpreters certified by any state and the Consortium for Language Access to the Courts. Interpreters without certification in languages other than Spanish are required to pass a skills assessment administered by this office. Résumés, proof of certification and letters of interest may be sent to: James W. Plunkett, III, Coordinator of Interpreting Services, Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Room 3127, 500 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001.