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Overcoming Language Barrier between Immigrants and Legal Services

We are building a network platform for volunteer interpreters that is easily accessible to low-cost attorneys.

Photo of Shau H
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

There is an increasing demand for low-cost/pro-bono attorney with increasing pressure on immigration laws in America. Without an appropriate interpreter, an attorney cannot appropriately represent clients who speak different languages. It is problematic if these low-cost attorneys have to spend additional time and resources to locate these interpreters. As such we aim to address this pain point by creating a network platform that can help these attorneys quickly finding capable volunteer interpreters.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Border towns (El Paso, Brownsville, etc.) where it is easy to find Spanish speaking communities. These regions would be a great place to start out this platform.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Migrants who do not speak host community's language often find themselves at disadvantage in a court room. By building a network for legal representatives and passionate interpreters, migrants will have a better chance to receive appropriate representation in court.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Michele R. Pistone, JD, “The most empathetic thing someone can do is speak in someone’s story in their language." Language barrier limits our communication, as result it promotes fear, confusion, and distrust. Breaking down this wall opens up opportunity to understand one another. By creating an accessible network of interpreters, we are ensuring that a low-cost attorney can find an appropriate interpreter to help them empathize and represent their client.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

We are making sure that all immigrants can receive proper representation by quickly connecting low-cost attorneys with volunteer interpreters. The less time an attorney has to spend finding an appropriate interpreter within their budget, the more clients they can take on and focus on cases. Creating a network of interpreters can help us achieve this goal.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

Angie is a passionate designer and immigrant advocate. She worked in a private school that focus on teaching ESL children the language and other necessary life skills to pursue higher education. One day a child approached Angie asking if she speaks Spanish. The child signaled his frantic mother over. The mother was trying to find immigration lawyer in the building Angie was in. The child showed Angie her phone, and she sees that the attorney was messaging the mother in English. She was able to quickly interpret the message and guided the family to the attorney's office. Angie saw the mother's frustration and confusion and was deeply troubled by this. We cannot imagine what the family is already going through, and not understanding their attorney does not seem comforting.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

We are building bridges between low-cost attorney and volunteer interpreters. By doing so we are ensuring that everyone receives a fair and appropriate representation in court. Based on our research, we understand that anyone can be an interpreter during informal court sessions as long as they're only working through the attorney. Furthermore, volunteer interpreters come from variety of background with various life goals. Some interpreters are passionate in helping immigrants in need, and some are interested in pursuing this career path. We believe that this platform can also serve as an opportunity for early interpreters to potentially build their network and experience.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

We are passionate creative minds who seeks to achieve social good through design. Our diverse background, design thinking, and web application knowledge can help us create an ideal networking platform that addresses users' needs and achieve our goals.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

We are currently looking for passionate multilingual volunteers within our community. Ideally we want to partner up with local Spanish classes from Universities (UT Austin, ACC, etc.), organizations, free legal clinics, or corporates who are interested in pro-bono volunteering their multilingual workers.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Prototype: We have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Group or Organization Name

TBN - Network site targeting Volunteer Interpreters and Low-Cost Attorneys

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

As people who grew up in the Valley, it is agonizing to see immigration issues are creating creating fear and distrust that divide us as a community. Our goal is to make sure that immigrants can confidently seek the help they need and prevent unjust arrests.

Type of submitter

  • We are individuals who are part of an informal group or collective

Organization Headquarters: Country

United States

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Austin, TX


Join the conversation:

Photo of Arsene Mongane Baci

Michael c'est très touchant cette initiative et ce partenariat. j'ai aussi travaillé dans les cliniques juridiques et j'avoue que ce n'est pas vraiment facile lorsqu'on se retrouve dans les situations d'écoute et entrevue avec des bénéficiaires d'aide légale gratuites et on s'entend pas. c'est pourquoi je me demandais ce que vous pensez de la mise en place des veilles communautaires qui pourraient aussi avoir des personnes qui les animent et connaissant bien les langues du coin. en place la mise en place des kiosques d'informations pourquoi pas d’interprétation dans les contrées de manière séparée pour davantage appuyer l'idée. en fait tout ceci concoure à ce que j’appelle accès à la justice des peuples. je serais ravi d'en développer dans une discussion ouverte comme celle ci. j'ai aussi partagée ces idées dans ce challenge et mon idée c'est à la page 11 challenge.

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