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March 31, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Chancellor Deborah R. Gross Applauds Pennsylvania Supreme Court's New Language Access Plan

Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Deborah R. Gross today applauded the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's adoption of a comprehensive plan to improve access to justice for those with limited English proficiency and those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

"Increasing access to the courts helps to improve access to justice," Gross said. "The new plan also further solidifies the courts' commitment to fair and equal access to justice by providing quality language access services to non-English-speaking and deaf court users, which is so desperately needed and can positively benefit hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians."

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Language Access Plan is designed to guide the judiciary in meeting language challenges brought by the growing diversity of Pennsylvania's population. The plan lays the groundwork for increased language access training and data collection procedures for Pennsylvania's 60 judicial districts.

Additionally, the plan also requires judicial districts to increase the availability of translated local court forms and signage and to make language interpreters available to those with limited English proficiency and those who are deaf or hard of hearing. The plan includes methods to identify the need for language services early in the judicial process and calls for the development of a procedure to monitor language access complaints and implementation of the Language Action Plan.

In 2003, the Philadelphia Bar Association adopted a resolution concerning equal access to courts and administrative agencies by limited English proficient persons and persons with disabilities.

The plan can be viewed and downloaded on the state court system website at: http://www.pacourts.us/assets/files/setting-5486/file-5972.pdf.

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