As Livingston Township becomes culturally diverse as a community, there is a need for interpreters to help those with English as a second language. It is often difficult for residents who are not fluent in the language to fully understand both written and spoken English especially when it comes to legal matters. The Municipal Court is mandated by the State Administrative Office of the Courts to provide interpreters for those in need of these services. This can average approximately $1300 in monthly costs, which have been significantly reduced (to about $120 per month) with the introduction of the Language Line Services.
“Language Line Services provides interpreters who speak over 170 languages,” explained Walter Mollineaux, Municipal Court Administrator. “They are available for over-the-phone interpreting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This has helped to reduce not only the cost of interpretation services, but also the problems of scheduling, delays in hearings, and the frustration that can occur when language becomes a barrier to communication.”
The first step for Township staff when residents require an interpreter is to identify the language spoken by using the Language Identification Card. The card lists languages most frequently encountered in North America, and groups them by geographical region where they are commonly spoken, for example, Europe, Pacific Islands, Africa, Middle East etc… Residents are shown the card, and asked to identify their native tongue. The English translation of the printed message under each language reads “Point to your language. An interpreter will be called. The interpreter is provided at no cost to you.”
Township staffs then connect to an interpreter using the Language Line Services who are then able to translate the requested language. Once connected to an interpreter, staff will explain the purpose of the call, and give the interpreter specific questions or information to interpret. Due to confidentiality issues, interpreters are only identified by first name and number. Interpreters convey meaning-for-meaning, not word-for-word. Concepts familiar to English speakers often require additional explanation or elaboration in other languages and cultures.
“Because Language Line Services have been extremely successful within the Municipal Court,” added Mollineaux, “the Township has extended access to this service to all its departments. Now, no matter what language residents speak, we can clear-up the lines of communication and improve understanding through these interpretative services.”
For more information on programs and services, or to contact a specific department, go to the Township website: www.livingstonnj.org. Or visit the Town Hall at 333-357 South Livingston Ave. Offices are open between 8:30-4:30 pm, Monday thru Friday, except for holidays. The Senior, Youth & Leisure Services and Health Department are located in the Senior/Community Center at 204 Hillside Ave.