Language Access Specialist Certificate Program Earns Creative Award for U.S. Copyright

From left, Lisa Kuuttila President and CEO of STC.UNM; Paula Couselo, Director of NMCLA; Dr. Cedric Page, Executive Director of UNM-Los Alamos. Photo by Bonnie Gordon

By Bonnie Gordon

PaulCouselo, director of the New Mexico Center for Language Access (NMCLA) was the recipient of a 2012 Creative Award for U.S. Copyright from the University of New Mexico, for the innovative Language Access Specialist Certificate Program.

The award was presented to Couselo at the 2012 Annual Creative Awards Reception hosted by STC.UNM Wednesday April 25.

The mission of STC is to support UNM and its partners as the source of innovation management and commercial development.

The New Mexico Center for Language Access, founded in 2009, provides training for bilingual individuals interested in helping those with linguistic needs throughout the justice and healthcare systems.

With leadership from UNM-Los Alamos and the support of the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Center offers state-of-the-art training for a variety of career paths: court and medical interpreting, bilingual employees (nurses, clerks, correction and patrol officers), and for already certified or working interpreters through continuing education options and refresher courses.

The Justice System Language Access Specialist program is designed to train bilingual judiciary employees who are called on to provide language access services as part of their regular work under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Attorneys, and experienced certified court interpreters and translators with a variety of backgrounds have designed the interdisciplinary curriculum.

This 12-week course is offered by the NMCLA in a self-directed online format, with topics covering online learning techniques, ethics and best practices for specialists, general and legal terminology in English and Spanish, methods of interpreting for the public, cultural competency, and components of the justice system.

Participants who successfully complete the course will be certified as Language Access Specialists.

This certificate is recognized by the New Mexico Judiciary.

“Judiciary employees are often called upon to provide information to someone who is experiencing a language barrier,” Couselo said. “It is important to provide equal access to justice outside the courtroom as well as inside it. We are the only ones who have a program for bilingual court employees available online. This program is unique. The online format makes this program available to people all over the state.”

Couselo has been involved with NMCLA from the beginning. She started as a consultant for the courts before moving into her current position as director.

“This is a very rewarding program,” Cosuelo said. “It can make a difference in many people’s lives.”

Students in the program agree.

“I have seen when a non­-English [speaking] person feels so helpless because they are unable to communicate with the public and they have no family to help them with their needs, said Elva Rivas, Legal Assistant for the Fifth Judicial District in Lovington. “I feel very strongly about helping these individuals and letting them know that when they come to our office they will be treated with respect and courtesy and that they are just as important as the next person.”

Feng Mei Lin of the New Mexico Supreme Court Library interprets Chinese. “I came from a Chinese-speaking country and I understand how it can be difficult for non­-native English speakers to receive proper services in the U.S,” Lin said. “Eighteen months ago, I became a citizen of the USA. I am interested in the certification program … to be of service to people of my native language, utilizing the skills I already possess and those I hope to learn.”

New classes are beginning June 4. Visit NMCLA online at www.nmcenterforlanguageaccess.org or call 505-270-0206, for more information.

Paula Cosuelo, director of the New Mexico Center for Language Access (NMCLA) was the recipient of a 2012 Creative Award for U.S. Copyright from the University of New Mexico, for the innovative Language Access Specialist Certificate Program.

The award was presented to Cosuelo at the 2012 Annual Creative Awards Reception hosted by STC.UNM Wednesday April 25.

The mission of STC is to support UNM and its partners as the source of innovation management and commercial development.

The New Mexico Center for Language Access, founded in 2009, provides training for bilingual individuals interested in helping those with linguistic needs throughout the justice and healthcare systems.

With leadership from UNM-Los Alamos and the support of the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Center offers state-of-the-art training for a variety of career paths: court and medical interpreting, bilingual employees (nurses, clerks, correction and patrol officers), and for already certified or working interpreters through continuing education options and refresher courses.

The Justice System Language Access Specialist program is designed to train bilingual judiciary employees who are called on to provide language access services as part of their regular work under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Attorneys, and experienced certified court interpreters and translators with a variety of backgrounds have designed the interdisciplinary curriculum.

This 12-week course is offered by the NMCLA in a self-directed online format, with topics covering online learning techniques, ethics and best practices for specialists, general and legal terminology in English and Spanish, methods of interpreting for the public, cultural competency, and components of the justice system.

Participants who successfully complete the course will be certified as Language Access Specialists.

This certificate is recognized by the New Mexico Judiciary.

“Judiciary employees are often called upon to provide information to someone who is experiencing a language barrier,” Cosuelo said. “It is important to provide equal access to justice outside the courtroom as well as inside it. We are the only ones who have a program for bilingual court employees available online. This program is unique. The online format makes this program available to people all over the state.”

Consuelo has been involved with NMCLA from the beginning. She started as a consultant for the courts before moving into her current position as director.

“This is a very rewarding program,” Couselo said. “It can make a difference in many people’s lives.”

Students in the program agree.

“I have seen when a non­-English [speaking] person feels so helpless because they are unable to communicate with the public and they have no family to help them with their needs, said Elva Rivas, Legal Assistant for the Fifth Judicial District in Lovington. “I feel very strongly about helping these individuals and letting them know that when they come to our office they will be treated with respect and courtesy and that they are just as important as the next person.”

Feng Mei Lin of the New Mexico Supreme Court Library interprets Chinese. “I came from a Chinese-speaking country and I understand how it can be difficult for non­-native English speakers to receive proper services in the U.S,” Lin said. “Eighteen months ago, I became a citizen of the USA. I am interested in the certification program … to be of service to people of my native language, utilizing the skills I already possess and those I hope to learn.”

New classes are beginning June 4. Visit NMCLA online at www.nmcenterforlanguageaccess.org or call 505-270-0206, for more information.

 

 

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