For The Public

The Seattle Municipal Court is committed to ensuring equal access to justice for all individuals regardless of their ability to communicate in the spoken English language. Language interpreters play an essential role in ensuring due process and helping court proceedings function efficiently and effectively.

Courts are responsible for scheduling interpreters for court proceedings. If you or someone you know requires the use of a language interpreter, please contact the court at (206) 684-5600.

What is an Interpreter?

An interpreter is someone who translates speech orally from one language to another.

What is a Translator?

A translator is someone who translates written materials including books, articles, etc. from one language to another.

Court Interpreters Are Not

  • Advocates
  • Consultants on culture or customs
  • Helpers with forms and instructions
  • Translators
    • Translator = Text
    • Interpreter = Oral Statements

Modes of Interpretation

  • Simultaneous Interpreting

The rendering of a speaker's or signer's message into another language while the speaker or signer continues to speak or sign.

  • Consecutive Interpreting

The rendering of a speaker's or signer's message into another language when the speaker or signer pauses to allow interpreting.  

  • Sight Translation

Reading written materials in one language, and translating them aloud into another language, without having practiced, prepared or seen the materials before.

  • Transcription/Translation

Transcriber/translator is a language specialist proficient in two languages who produces a document that comprises both a source-language transcription and a target-language translation of an audio- and /or video-recorded communication.