From the Hip: Martha Cohen, Manager, Office of Interpreter Services

A voice for all

martha-cohenKing County ranks nationally as a top county in numbers for refugee and immigrant resettlement. Indeed, 98198 is one of the most ethnically diverse zip codes in the U.S. It can be said that what New York City was to cultural diversity in 1905, Seattle/King County is today.

Since 1992, this office has provided interpreters in 161 different languages including ASL for all Superior Court departments: civil and criminal cases, deaf jurors and court related programs at the KCCH (Seattle), MRJC (Kent) and Youth Services Center (12th and Alder). This office is where all written translations of Superior Court criminal and civil forms and court documents are managed. Additionally, the multilingual signage and kiosks in the courthouses were coordinated through this office.

Staff has worked diligently to keep up with demand by developing a bank of 200+ freelance interpreters. At any of our sites, you can hear various languages and meet people from all over the world, in short, un petit United Nations. It is an exciting, vibrant work site!

This program has been acknowledged locally, statewide and nationally for its outstanding service. In 2006, we were recognized by the National Center for State Courts as one of three model programs nationwide for delivering excellent interpreter services to persons obtaining protection orders. We have been selected twice to host national two day site visits by the Center for Court Innovation. High standards demand quality control. To that end, we train interpreters, court personnel and all judges and court commissioners on interpreter protocol, ethics, procedures and methodology. This program presents a global view on local access to services in recognition of the region’s diverse ethnic communities.

This column is featured courtesy of Martha Cohen, Manager, Office of Interpreter Services