Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) Pilot Project

Video Remote Interpreting uses videoconferencing technology to provide court users with a qualified interpreter, when an onsite interpreter is not readily available. In June 2016, the Judicial Council approved a VRI pilot project to evaluate and test VRI technology in the courts, pursuant to recommendations in the Judicial Council’s Strategic Plan for Language Access in the California Courts (the Language Access Plan, or LAP).

This pilot project aims to expand language access within the California courts by testing different VRI equipment solutions. The pilot will include input from the public and court stakeholders to help the branch evaluate how and when VRI may be appropriate for different types of case events (short matters). On an individual basis, the court will determine if each case event is appropriate for VRI. For a quick review of VRI, download the Video Remote Interpreting Fact Sheet.

Latest News

March 15, 2019: The Judicial Council approved updated Language Access Plan guidelines for video remote interpreting (VRI) that include recommended minimum technology guidelines to facilitate its use. The council also voted to create a new VRI program for the judicial branch to expand LEP court user access to qualified interpreters. GuidelinesReport. Slideshow. News Release.

Potential Benefits of VRI include:

  • Increased access to qualified (certified and registered) interpreters, especially in languages of lesser diffusion.
  • Allowing court users to see and talk to an interpreter in their language without extended delay, despite not being in the same room, or even the same city.
  • Allowing court users to resolve short, non-complex, and uncontested hearings, even when on-site interpreters are unavailable, lowering the need to reschedule court visits.
  • Private and confidential VRI conversations, similar to in-person interpreting.

Pilot Project Phases

The pilot project is outlined under LAP Recommendation 16, and is comprised of four main phases:

Final Report: Phase 4 of the VRI Pilot Project

Project Timeline

Project Initiation Phase - Completed

  • JC Approval VRI Pilot Project - Completed June 2016.
  • RFP Contract Awarded - Completed October 2016.
    • A Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued for a no-cost VRI Pilot Project.  Two qualified vendors, Connected Justice and Paras and Associates, will participate in the pilot project.
  • Vendor Contracts Executed - Completed May 2017.

Design Phase - Completed

  • Pilot Design - Completed.
    • Three Superior Courts were selected to participate: Merced, Ventura, and Sacramento – Completed.
    • Initial VRI Pilot Project site visits with vendors - Completed June 2017
    • Vendor to provide proposed courtroom solutions – Completed July 2017.
  • Evaluation Design - Completed.
    • The VRI Pilot project will be evaluated by an independent, third-party evaluator, San Diego State University Research Foundation.
  • Training Development - Completed January 2018.

Pilot Assessment Phase - Completed

  • Begin Pilot Assessment for a period of six months - Concluded on July 31, 2018.
  • Data Collection - In progress.

Final Report Phase

  • Analyze Data - In progress
  • Prepare Report - In progress
  • Judicial Council Approval - March 2019.
  • Master Contract Available - Spring/Summer 2019.
    • Following the VRI Pilot, the Judicial Council and approved equipment vendors will engage in good faith discussions to execute a Master Contract. This contract would enable interested California courts to purchase the selected VRI solution and its related equipment/technology at a state-negotiated rate.

Last updated: June 19, 2019