An independent news publication of
United Way of Lancaster County


DA’s office seeks funding to translate court documents

Amer Al-Fayadh, founder of Communication Essentials, speaks about the Lancaster Language project as District Attorney Heather Adams looks on during a news conference at the DA offices on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

The Lancaster County district attorney’s office is continuing its efforts to improve accessibility for individuals who speak a language other than English as their native tongue.

Documents slated for translation

  • Arraignment form
  • MDJ Diversion Program agreement form
  • MDJ Diversion Program information
  • MDJ Diversion Program FAQ
  • Victim Witness Services brochure
  • Juvenile Court: Information for victims
  • PA SAVIN (Statewide Automated Victim Information & Notification) brochure
  • Lancaster County Victim Witness Handbook

Source: District Attorney’s office

On Wednesday, the Lancaster County commissioners authorized the office to apply for a $10,000 grant to the Lancaster Law Foundation to translate informational brochures and legally required notification forms into Arabic, Nepali, Spanish and Swahili.

Some forms are already available in Spanish, but not all, and the office is finding an increased need for additional languages, spokesman Sean McBryan said.

The translation would be done by Communication Essentials, a social enterprise founded by Amer Al-Fayadh, a former refugee. The organization previously partnered with the district attorney’s office and local police departments on the Lancaster Language Justice Initiative, which developed language cards with basic phrases to use with law enforcement, and a video, dubbed into multiple languages, on how to behave at traffic stops.

The document translation builds on that, but is a separate project, McBryan said.

The county’s grant application notes that Lancaster County has 922 speakers of Nepali, 776 speakers of Swahili and 209 speakers of Arabic. Those three languages and Spanish account for 90% of the requests for court interpretation services.

Al-Fayadh said Communication Essentials is proud of its partnership with the DA’s office and its role in providing “culturally and linguistically appropriate resources for all members of our community.”

Communication Essentials anticipates being able to translate the documents in 15 to 30 days. Printing would take another three to four days.