Language Access Toolkit - Strategic Planning

Language Access Toolkit - Strategic PlanningEvaluate your court's language access practices with a self-assessment tool and review successful programs and other resources to help you create a long-term strategic plan to ensure language access in your court.

Fact Sheets

Fact Sheet: Language Access
Soucre: California Courts Website
Language access needs in California and branch work on the issue

Limited English Proficiency

Federal Interagency Website: Limited English Proficiency
Description: This site acts as a clearinghouse, providing and linking to information, tools, and technical assistance regarding limited English proficiency and language services for federal agencies, recipients of federal funds, users of federal programs and federally assisted programs, and other stakeholders.

Protocol and Action Guide for Serving LEP Court Users

Protocol for Serving Limited English Proficient Court Users
Whether you are a court employee who is working with the public in jury services, the self-help center or the clerk’s office, you have probably encountered members of the public who need help and do not speak English.  These encounters can be frustrating due to language barriers, and you may be left wondering whether you were able to help at all.  This protocol provides recommended steps for court employees to follow that will help them meet the needs of limited English proficient (LEP) court users.

Action Guide for Serving Limited English Proficient Court Users
The Action Guide is a shortened version of the protocol and is designed to be a quick reference guide to assist court employees. It can be placed  at various workstations throughout the courthouse (e.g., security, clerk counters, family law facilitator office or self-help centers). The Action Guide can be adapted by each court to provide court-specific information on the court’s available bilingual employees, telephonic interpreting services and translated resources.

Protocols for the Use of Bilingual Volunteers
The document provides guidelines for courts that currently offer or are interested in developing volunteer opportunities for bilingual members of the community.  These guidelines are organized into four categories of volunteer development and supervision: Recruitment, Qualification, Training and the Supervision and Management of bilingual volunteers. 


Courthouse Design, Signage and Wayfinding

Wayfinding and Signage Strategies for Language Access in the California Courts: Report and Recommendations
The National Center for State Courts, in collaboration with the Language Access Plan Implementation Task Force, conducted four site visits to local courthouses and ten phone interviews with staff from a variety of courts across the state to explore the current use of bilingual and multilingual signage. This report compiles best practices from around the state in courthouse design and in the use of signage and wayfinding strategies to enhance access for LEP court users.  The report also makes specific recommendations regarding the incorporation of language access considerations in courthouse design and the use of technology to augment the court’s ability to provide information in multiple languages.

Glossary of Signage Terms and Icons
The Glossary of Signage Terms and Icons contains the following:

  • 73 common signage terms edited to render them in plain language to the maximum extent possible.
  • Translations of each of the terms into 10 languages (Arabic, Chinese-Simplified, Chinese-Traditional, Farsi, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese).
  • Recommendations on the type of font that is most appropriate for the each language.
  • 25 icons available for use by the courts that are looking to add or standardize visual images on their physical signage or on local websites.


Please note: The attached document can be downloaded as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet can be filtered and organized to display the desired signage terms for individual courts. It is locked to avoid an accidental deletion of terms, but is not protected with a password—any user who has downloaded the file can "unprotect" it.

Technology and Language Access

Technological Options for Providing and Sharing Court Language Access Services Outside the Courtroom
This report is a descriptive survey of programs in California and in other state courts that leverage technology to expand and improve access to the court for LEP court users. Drawing from successful technology initiatives already underway in the courts, the report contains a general description of each type of technology and information on how it has or could be used in a court setting to enhance language access and provides brief highlights of existing court-based implementations.  Each section concludes with a set of concrete suggestions on next steps for those court employees interested in exploring the technology to enhance language access in their own courts.


Model Complaint Packet
Effective January 1, 2018, California Rules of Court, Rule 2.851 requires each superior court to establish a language access services complaint form and related procedures to respond to language access services complaints that relate to staff or court interpreters, or to local translations, as soon as reasonably possible but no later than December 31, 2018.  Individual courts may choose to develop their local complaint form and process based on the materials contained in the model packet.  If you would like to register a language access services complaint about Judicial Council meetings, forms, or other translations hosted on the California Courts website, please go to the Language Access Contact Us page for more information.

Translations: Interactive (Fillable PDF) Model Complaint Form


Los Angeles Superior Court's complaint process for issues with access to language services.
Source: Los Angeles Superior Court

Language Access Tools for Courts and Court Programs (Mindlin & Nelson)
Description: Two-page overview of steps for courts to take to ensure full language access


Department of Justice Language Access Assessment

Department of Justice Language Access Instruments


Court Interpreters Program
Source: California Courts website
Description: Description of court interpreters program on California Courts website.

TIPS on Hiring the Right Telephone Interpretation Vendor
Description: Recommended process and best practices for hiring the right telephone interpreter service for your court.

2015 Language Need and Interpreter Use Study
Source: California Courts website
Description: The study, conducted by the National Center for State Courts, details interpreter use in the trial courts for the fiscal year (FY) period FY 2009–FY 2013 and projects future language need.

2020 Language Need and Interpreter Use Study
Source: California Courts website
Description: This report, pursuant to Government Code section 68563, provides a comprehensive look at interpreter services used in courts for spoken languages from fiscal year (FY) 2014–15 through FY 2017–18, and offers analysis on future language need in order to consider changes to the designation of languages for certification.

Spanish Resources

Self-Help Glossary
Source: Judicial Council of California
Description: Glossary of legal terms in Spanish and English.

Language Access Icons

Language Access Universal Icon
Use of a universal language access icon helps LEP court users to easily identify language access services provided by the court. Courts may use the language access icon (courtesy of Transcend) in their web and print materials, but not for any commercial purpose.

Toolkit Button for Local Court Intranet Sites

Language Access Resources at your fingertips with a single click!  If your court is interested in placing a link for the Language Access Toolkit on your local intranet site, you can download the graphic below and ask your site administrator to hyperlink it to the Language Access Toolkit.

Language Access Toolkit Button

Translation Tools

Master Agreement for Translation Services - Avantpage
Master Agreement for Translation Services - Prisma

The Judicial Council has entered a Master Agreement with Avantpage and Prisma Translations for translation services on behalf of Judicial Branch Entities (JBEs). JBEs, which include courts, may place individual orders for translation services by issuing a Purchase Order as described in Section 1 of the Agreement.

Translation Protocol
If your court is interested in translating documents for the public, we encourage you to review this Translation Protocol.  The Protocol is a model set of steps and standards for the translation of written documents that can be adapted for local court implementation.  It includes standards for professional translator credentials and guidelines for managing foreign language documents in your organization.

Translation Action Plan
This document creates a prioritized ranking for the translation of Judicial Council documents, including forms and orders, information sheets and website content.  The ranking provides a model for local courts that considers what documents are of greatest utility to court users and how to manage translation work with a limited budget.

Web Guidance Materials

Web Guidance Materials
Court web content guidance materials are designed to be helpful for courts to update their web sites to promote consistency and uniformity throughout the state, including: updating local language access and LEP plan web pages; web site placement of language access information; use of a universal language access icon; sample updated LEP plan template; and effective web practices in the California courts.

Language Access in Court-Ordered Services

Language Access in Court-Ordered Services: Information for Courts and Judicial Officers

Under California Rules of Court, rule 1.300, Judicial Officers should avoid ordering an LEP litigant to participate in a program or service when that program or service is not available in the language of the litigant. This Fact Sheet provides information about the rule of court and Judicial Council forms designed to help the courts ensure language access to court-ordered services.

Language Access in Court-Ordered Services: Policies, Procedures and Strategies for Courts

Under California Rules of Court, rule 1.300, courts should, as soon as feasible, implement policies and procedures to ensure equal access to court-ordered services for LEP litigants. This document provides suggested policies, procedures and strategies for courts to implement California Rules of Court, rule 1.300.

Form LA-350: Notice of Available Language Assistance—Service Provider

This form guide explains how to use form LA-350 to notify the court that you offer language assistance in conjunction with court-ordered services.

Form LA-400: Service Not Available in My Language: Request to Change Court Order

LEP litigants may use this form to notify the court that they are unable to access a court-ordered service because of a language barrier. They may request an alternative order or additional time to participate in a court-ordered service.

Form LA-450: Service Not Available in My Language: Order

Courts may use this form to respond to a request for an alternative order or additional time to complete a court-ordered service by an LEP litigant who has notified the court that they are unable to access a court-ordered service because of a language barrier.

Notifying the court about available language assistance: Customizable Web Content for Local Courts

This document contains customizable content for local court websites to communicate with their justice partners and community providers.