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The Ohio Supreme Court is taking steps to ensure that non-English speakers and people who are hearing impaired have access to foreign and sign language interpreters.
The court is making a free telephone line available to courts to provide round-the-clock interpreting in more than 200 languages.
The phone service will cost up to $50,000 a year with the expense covered by the Supreme Court’s budget.
Local courts, such as Youngstown Municipal Court, rely on a regional office to provide interpreters.
New court rules taking effect in January require courts to provide certified sign language and foreign language interpreters when available, and a newly developed court brochure, video and public awareness campaign will provide judges guidance on finding interpreters.
“It would help in multiple ways,” said Youngstown Municipal Court Assignment Commissioner Angela Frederick. “Being able to schedule hearing more quickly. Being able to address the needs for those on arraignments and also video arraignments and also the expense of travel.”
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said Thursday the efforts are ensuring equal access in courtrooms.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.