Know your rights when court interpreters strike

American Sign Language hand sign for interpretation.

Legal Aid’s Minnesota Disability Law Center with Think Self issued the following statement outlining the rights for those needing American Sign Language or multilingual court interpretation services.


You have a right to an interpreter for your Court hearings. All court participants have a constitutional right to
effective and meaningful communication in court and the right to be heard – in both civil and criminal court. To
protect these rights, courts must take steps to ensure that communication with people with disabilities is as
effective and meaningful as communication for people without disabilities. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), courts must provide aids and services, like qualified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, to communicate effectively with people who are deaf.

Minnesota Certified ASL Court Interpreters, along with other foreign language Court Interpreters, are now on strike. Therefore, the court may not have an ASL interpreter to communicate effectively with you at court. Most Minnesota judges are now either continuing the case or using outstate Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) for court participants who are deaf. If your case is “continued”, that means that the judge is only moving your hearing to another date. Make sure you get the new date for your hearing and come to court on the new date set by the judge.

If the court uses VRI, the VRI must have a clear, high-quality video image of the interpreter without freezing, blur or lags, must be large enough to show all of the interpreters’signing, and provide an audible transmission of voices. The ASL interpreter must also be qualified court interpreter.

If you are not given an interpreter or otherwise denied effective communication in court, we recommend that
you file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (DOJ) or the MN Department of
Human Rights
(MDHR). You may contact the DOJ at or (202) 514-3847; 1-
855-856-1247 (toll-free) or (202) 514-0716 (TTY). Or you may contact the MDHR at 651-539-1133, MN Relay 711
at 1-800-627-3529 or Toll Free at 800-657-3704 or

There are time limits to file complaints under the law, called statutes of limitations. Therefore, if you want to file
a complaint, you should do so as soon as possible.

If you make a complaint to the DOJ or MDHR, please also inform ThinkSelf by videophone at 651-829-9089 or
email at

Here is a QR Code that will give you an interpretation of this letter in ASL: