Typically, language access advocates point to examples of limited- or non-English proficient persons directly harmed by lack of language access in critical venues or circumstances, such as legal or medical emergencies. In the tragic case featured in the AZ News article entitled Parents of Liberian rape victim set free due to language barrier, a child abuse victim and society at large may suffer the consequences of a Court’s failure to provide language access to the non-English proficient alleged perpetrators, whose prosecution was obstructed by lack of availability of a qualified interpreter. As is sometimes the case with any civil rights violation – be it Miranda rights, the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, or the right to competent counsel  – deprivation of language access may at times inure to a perpetrator’s benefit. Nonetheless, this fact pattern presents yet another example of why we must do more to ensure plenary language access. This case begs the question why, given its Title VI obligations and the availability of Language Line and other interpretation/translation resources, did this Court fail to procure a competent legal interpreter?

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