Thus far, Professor Danylenko and I have made good progress with our Legal Translation Questionnaire research. As planned, we have put heavy focus on what is expected of organizations or companies that provide legal translation. I have assessed 5 companies in the tri-state area that provide legal translation services for a fee to determine the extent as to their expertise and whether the majority of those who do inquire of translation services can afford them. The companies that we assessed are Apoling Solutions, Morningside Translations, D&T Translations, Certified Translation, and Day Translations. I presented a questionnaire (attached) to these 5 companies in order to better understand the work that they do, whether they maintain professionalism and are licensed to operate, the prices of standard translations/interpretations, and what such a company entails from its translators. Additionally, I submitted 3 legal documents to each company in the Russian, Spanish, and Chinese languages to obtain sample quotes of how much certified and non-certified legal translations would cost. This allowed us to respectively compare the average wage of immigrants in the United States to how much legal translation/interpretation would cost, if utilizing these companies.
Additionally, we have explored the very limited number of organizations providing these services free-of-charge and how the whole process of translation for low-income clients works from the first step to the final stage. Ultimately, we were only able to verify that two such organizations exist in the area: The New York Legal Assistance Group and The Legal Aid Society. Both these organizations have a high waiting list for legal services and only provide legal translation as an additional supplement to their services. To determine the quality of translation/interpretation services provided by these organizations, we inquired as to how volunteers are selected and the number of volunteers available in each language. We also wanted to understand how the city provided non-English speakers with translators during trials and for this, I visited the criminal court house of Kings county in Brooklyn. While I had previously thought that legal translation was fully available to all in need, I was quite shocked just how limited it is. However, we did learn that multiple offices in the U.S. receive funding from the government specifically towards language access services. These include the Legal Services Corporation, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Labor. If individuals are not provided services in their languages at these offices, they have the opportunity to file a complaint. Yet the question remains as to what those who speak another language that isn’t as common should do if there is no translator/interpreter available. This is our third step of research that we are working on.
A good portion of our research is obtaining data and actual observances from non-English speakers who have used such translation services. We presented a questionnaire (attached) to over 100 individuals and received the responses of 24. The questionnaire was uniform, contained identical questions, and was completely voluntary. While we are still analyzing the results of the questionnaires, the overall picture shows that most clients were not fully satisfied with the services that they received. Most of the issues arose from the lengthy wait-time of having access to translators/interpreters, as well as the lack in availability of such services altogether. The full analysis of our data will be presented in graphical format within our research paper at the conclusion of the summer where we hope to see a pattern in the issues and come up with a way as to how they can be improved. Our next part of the project will focus on steps that can be taken by the city to enhance legal translation, where there are thousands of non-English speakers. Yet the data also raises the questions as to where the city of New York will find funding to support such projects, even if an alternative solution was offered. Based on my research, a good suggestion that arises would be for the city to offer college students a chance to release them from their loans if they were to go into pursuing a career in legal translation. This idea has been done to increase the number of teachers in U.S. schools by offering loan forgiveness to those who pursue jobs as educators in specific subjects or districts. The plan would encourage students to make the field of legal translation a priority and encourage more graduates to pursue such jobs. Overall, we are highly satisfied with the work that we have produced as of date and look forward to continuing our research in August.