On March 14, 2012, Legal Services Corporation (LSC) hosted “Language Access and LSC’s TIG Program: Legal Aid and Court Collaborations.” This webinar set out to help legal services providers better understand language access issues and how to improve access to justice for people who are limited English proficient using technology and creative collaborations. Please view the recording through the player below. A special thanks to our four presenters:
The webinar highlighted a couple of innovative technologies utlilized in the legal services community:
Though we only had time to highlight three projects during the webinar, many other TIG-funded language access initiatives have successfully leveraged technology to improve services for LEP communities. Those include:
Legal Services of New York City: TIG Award $64,560
This project developed a Spanish version of the LiveHelp website application which allows website users to chat in real time with a knowledgeable facilitator who can refer them to appropriate website resources. The project team worked with law schools and law firms to ensure that live chat assistance was available to LEP website users who requested the service. The project team found that Spanish-speaking website users were more likely to use LiveHelp than visitors proficient in English. While New York was the first state to use TIG funding to implement a Spanish version of LiveHelp, at least three other states have replicated similar projects.
Legal Services of New York City: TIG Award $50,000
Legal Services of NYC’s project team developed a search engine optimization and marketing initiative for the www.LawHelp.org/NY statewide website. As part of this initiative, LawHelp/NY established a Spanish-language web marketing campaign to reach New York’s large Spanish-speaking population. The project included development of an online toolkit that captures web marketing strategies and lessons learned, including those related to the team’s efforts to attract more Spanish-speakers to the site. The toolkit is online at http://www.lawhelp.org/documents/clusters/NY/498/English/toolkit.shtml
Northwest Justice Project*: TIG Award $119,660
Northwest Justice Project (NJP), in partnership with the Washington State Coalition for Language Access (WASCLA), is creating web-based language access training modules for attorneys and developing an interactive database of interpreters and translators easily accessible to legal services and justice system partners. Under this project, NJP will create: 1) an online guidebook on language access laws in a variety of substantive areas of law, court rules, and ethical obligations relevant to working with limited English proficient clients; 2) online, multimedia training modules on language access laws generally and in a variety of substantive areas of law including, health care, housing, public benefits, and education; and 3) online, multimedia training modules for attorneys, judges, court personnel and support staff on how to work with interpreters and translators.
Project Team Contact: Kristi Cruz, Attorney, Northwest Justice Project
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid*: TIG Award $161,500
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, in partnership with Pro Bono Net, is developing culturally and linguistically appropriate bilingual court order packages for self-represented clients. The court order packages are being developed for courts in Travis County, Texas, and Sonoma County, California. Order packages will also be automated through the LawHelp Interactive national automated forms server and available to preparers through the HotDocs software interface. The project team will focus initially on developing Spanish court orders in the areas of child custody and domestic violence prevention/protective order cases. When completed, the project will ensure that Spanish-speaking litigants receive an order and instructions they are significantly more likely to understand.
Center for Arkansas Legal Services: TIG Award $23,600
Center for Arkansas Legal Services is developing Spanish-language content for its widely-used statewide legal aid website in several multimedia formats, including web videos, streaming audio and interactive forms. This will allow the Arkansas statewide website to better assist self-help clients with limited English proficiency, especially those facing common legal problems.
Project Team Contact: Kim Marshall, Content Developer & Project Coordinator, Arkansas Legal Services Partnership
Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, Inc.: TIG Award $81,100
Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, Inc. is creating multimedia web content, including online videos and streaming audio, in commonly encountered LEP languages (Spanish, Bosnian, Burmese/Karen, Russian, Somali Maay Maay and Vietnamese). The program is also developing "Babel" notices for vital documents that will allow LEP individuals to call a telephone number to hear the contents of documents in their own languages, or speak with a staff member directly or through the use of an interpreter. The project will also enhance outreach efforts and will improve the intake process for LEP applicants by creating office phone prompts and phone messages in languages other than English and Spanish, installing dual handset phones to facilitate calls to telephone interpreters, and developing audio/video and written outreach materials that explain the availability of these new intake assistance services.
Project Team Contact: Cindy Domingue-Hendrickson, Managing Attorney, Legal Aid Society of Mid-NY, Inc.
Legal Aid of Western Ohio: TIG Award $58,520
Legal Aid of Western Ohio (LAWO) is developing a Spanish version of its web-based online intake application. The application will allow prospective Spanish-speaking clients to apply for assistance using a web-based, user-friendly graphical interview. User responses will be sent electronically to the program for review. Additionally, LAWO is using TIG funds to develop a Spanish version of Ohio’s existing A2J online template for Advance Directives. The current English A2J interview for Advance Directives is one of the few statewide accepted forms and is used hundreds of times a year by advocates and pro se litigants in the state.
Project Team Contact: Cynthia Vaughn, Statewide Technology Project Manager, Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation
Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Inc.: TIG Award $121,000
Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York will develop a Spanish portal for the national LawHelp.org homepage along with ten nationally-relevant online guides on key legal education and language access topics. This project will also launch LiveHelp live chat assistance for LawHelp.org Spanish portal users. The project hopes to increase usage of all web-based legal aid resources for Spanish-speaking clients by offering an accessible portal through which LEP users can navigate.
Project Team Contacts: Lillian Moy, Executive Director, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York
* Asterisk denotes projects with resources for, or in collaboration with, courts.