Language Access Receives National Education Award

Language Access Receives National Education Award

Thursday, February 13, 2020
COABE Trophy

The Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) selected the Judicial Branch Language Access program as the winner of its prestigious State Innovation of the Year Award.  This recognition is for the exciting new Language Access Partnership initiative for recruiting and training Nebraska court interpreters, which can be scaled and replicated in other states.  Northeast Community College Adult Education Coordinator nominated the Judicial Branch Language Access Program for the award.

This year the Supreme Court’s Language Access Program collaborated with Northeast Community College in Norfolk to provide a no-cost adult education course for aspiring court interpreters.  To address the shortage of certified court interpreters in Nebraska.  This program is the first of its kind in the nation and is proving to be very successful.  Statewide Language Access Coordinator Jennifer Verhein will join Julie Clark at the COABE conference in April to present a 75-minute train-the-trainers session on this fruitful collaboration.  Already court interpreter programs in seven other states have reached out of information regarding this team approach to cultivate court interpreters, and two more Nebraska community colleges are exploring the possibility of implementing similar programming on their campuses.

In response to the award notification, Jennifer Verhein said, “I am honored the Nebraska Supreme Court Language Access will receive COABE’s Outstanding Innovation of the Year Award for the collaborative program with Nebraska’s Northeast Community College to cultivate certified court interpreters.  When language barriers disrupt the process of justice and prevent communication, we lose the basic values of our justice system. To maintain these values, every litigant, victim, and witness must hear in a language they understand what is said in the courtroom.  It is equally important that judges, attorneys, and jury members understand the testimony and arguments of non-English speakers so that justice can be served.  The Nebraska Supreme Court’s Language Access Partnership with Northeast Community College is a wonderful example of innovation to meet the ever-increasing expectations for access to justice.  And it is the language skills and hard work of our court interpreters that enables Nebraska’s limited English proficient residents to tell their own stories in their own words in our State’s courts and probation offices.”