Guidelines for Certified Interpreters Law

I. Introduction

The Court and Administrative Proceeding Interpreter Certification Law (Act 172 of 2006) was signed into law by Governor Rendell on November 29, 2006. It amends both the Administrative/Local Agency Law and the Judicial Code by respectively requiring the Department of Labor and Industry (Department) and the Court Administrator to establish parallel programs for the appointment and use of certified interpreters for persons with limited English proficiency and persons who are deaf and hard of hearing in administrative and court proceedings. The Department is also required to provide guidelines to agencies for the selection and use of otherwise qualified interpreters when a certified interpreter is not available.

II. Certified/Otherwise Qualified Interpreters

Interpreters duly certified by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) under 42 Pa. C.S. Ch.44 shall be granted automatic certification for the purposes of, and use in administrative proceedings in accordance with 2 Pa. C.S. §§ 562, 582. An interpreter registered with AOPC, but not yet certified, may be considered as an otherwise qualified interpreted for the purposes of, and use in administrative proceedings pursuant to 2 Pa. C.S. §§ 563(b), 583(b). A roster of certified and registered interpreters can be obtained from AOPC’s Web site.

III. Presiding Officers/Agency Responsibilities

  1. The presiding officer at any administrative agency hearing (both Commonwealth and local agency hearings) subject to 2 Pa. C.S., Ch. 5, Subchapter C and D¹, shall appoint a certified or otherwise qualified interpreter upon request or sua sponte for persons with limited English proficiency or who are deaf and hard of hearing.
     
  2. The cost of providing the interpreter, including fees and expenses, will be paid by the agency conducting the administrative hearing.
     
  3. The following type of voir dire is suggested for qualifying, non-certified interpreters:
    1. Model Voir Dire for Qualifying a Non-Certified Sign Language Interpreter or Transliterator
       
    2. Model Voir Dire for Qualifying a Non-Certified Foreign Language Interpreter
       
  4. All interpreters must be administered an oath before commencing interpreter duties. Click for a suggested oath.

IV. Standards of Professional Conduct

V. Suggested Checklists

    1. Presiding Officer Checklist
       
    2. Interpreter Checklist

VI. Additional Information

    1. Frequently Asked Questions

VII. Contact Person

Questions may be directed to:
Richard C. Lengler, Deputy Chief Counsel
651 Boas Street, 10th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17121
 
Telephone: 717-787-4186
FAX: 717-783-5027
E-mail address: rlengler@pa.gov

 
¹The following types of administrative proceedings are exempt:
  1. Proceedings before the Department of Revenue, Department of the Auditor General, or the Board of Finance and Revenue involving the original settlement, assessment, determination or resettlement, reassessment, redetermination, or refund of taxes, interest or payments made into the State Treasury.
     
  2. Election Code proceedings before the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
     
  3. Department of Transportation motor vehicle proceedings appealable to common pleas court.
     
  4. Student discipline proceedings before the State System of Higher Education.
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