Our first guest blogger is Claudia Colindres Johnson who will be adding her perspectives on access to justice here for the next month or so. I am particularly pleased to welcome Claudia (already a frequent commenter on the blog) because she brings a strong “out of the box” innovation perspective, with a particularly powerful and helpful perspective on matters of technology and of language access. She always communicates her unexpected and thoughtful ideas with passion and caring — welcome Claudia. A short bio is at the bottom of her post.
I saw this presentation in the public library realm. http://www.onlinecollege.org/2011/09/05/20-coolest-ipad-ideas-for-your-library/. It came in the monthly email from Web Junction, a public library training resources that I highly recommend to those working on public information. http://www.webjunction.org/1 This month, Web Junction is looking at the “gadget eco system”.
It really excited me to see these short and sweet 20 ideas of what public libraries are doing/could do with Ipads. I started to think about what the ideas would be for our community. I came up with a few but not 20, not even 10. Now that mobile devices are gaining traction in the legal non profit/access to justice arena—we should start thinking about what would be the top 20 applications of handheld devices (tablets, ipads, mobile phones). The legal aid community is starting to take first steps in this realm, some of them very encouraging. Here are some ideas I thought up:
1. Legal Self Help Ipad (tablet) workstations—load into a handhelp device the state specific LSC approved legal information website, along w/any court self help webpages, and in it, create a simple to use self help “kiosk” where the person can “click to dial” into a legal hotline, request a web chat, do an online intake, do self triage, or assemble, print and email an online form.
2. The Pro Bono tablet—pre load a handheld device with the advocate statewide website, resource webpages (both local and federal), and to site training podcasts, videos, specific to that area of law. With this table, the pro bono lawyer can go to any clinic, and have in the tablet everything they need for that event and in that area of law—including access to remote resources, online forms, and connectivity to a printer.
3. The court self help LEP tablet—preload a tablet with court resources specific to a language and high self represented volume dockets. Use software that would allow the LEP court user to see a map, guide to the court house in their language, along with hours, locations, and languages served. This site could include “how to “ work flow 2 or 3 minute videos of that court room in that language type tutorial. Add the public self help webpages of that local/state court to the tablet. In there connect to online forms in other languages etc, and web chat to support the LEP court users remotely. Also add any relevant “click to call” resources to request interpretation while at court. The tablets would be very helpful when there is not a lot of multilingual signage or instructions in that language or personal at public information desks,triage desks, etc.
What else comes to your mind? Could we get to 20 different eco gadget ideas in the access to justice realm?
Update: Here is an article “Smart Pads on the Wireless Web” by Marc Lauritsen on the same subject.
Claudia has been a public interest lawyer since she graduate from Penn Law in 1997. She started her career as a Skadden Fellow in Philadelphia PA. Over the course of her legal career, she has work in leadership positions with excellent programs including LSC funded groups, non-LSC funded groups, and a model pro bono Project (VSLP in SF). For the past 3 ½ years she has been working on the national document assembly initiative for the access to justice communities, LawHelp Interactive with Pro Bono Net. She has started many projects that have changed the delivery systems in various regions and have been replicated in other cities and states, including starting the Language Access Project at Community Legal Services, doing the initial work in the SF Superior LLT court pro bono project, creating a model volunteer interpreter project at VLSP, and centralizing and creating a strong and well respected centralized intake unit at Bay Area Legal Aid, Oakland. Prior to law school, Claudia worked for a Congressional Commission in Washington DC, doing policy analysis in Medicare Part A. Here she learned how Federal Rules are made and her work led to some published changes aimed at increasing the quality of the system for Medicare beneficiaries. Her experience at Pro PAC led her to attend law school to become an advocate for the poor and unrepresented groups. She is a graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, the Goldman School of Public Policy (UC Berkeley), the Graduate School of Public Health (UC Berkeley) and holds her BA from the same university. Over the course of her life she has lived in 15 cities and 5 countries. She is fluent in English and German. Her family immigrated from El Salvador to Puerto Rico during the civil war in the 1980s. She currently resides in Eastern WA and enjoys the company of family, her theoretical pet dogote, and a Boston Terrier
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Claudia – I particularly like your suggestion for signs in multiple languages. This would be helpful in our public law library as we have many Spanish users and I could direct them to the virtual signs that had common questions and answers, directions, etc.
Another use would be the ability to check out a tablet to view self-help videos. Our court has a number of useful self-help videos but since our public computers are locked down and can’t access YouTube, I’m not able to show the videos to our self reps in the library. The tablet could be locked down enough so the patrons could only access pre-selected sites, apps, how to videos, etc. We could also create a step-by-step tutorial for filling out forms that the patrons could view in the library while they are filling out the forms.
Claudia, a few months back I acquired a Windows tablet to test some notions I had about the potential uses of a tablet for pro bono services delivery. I think your ideas here are sound.
My program is a Windows operation, so a Windows tablet seemed a reasonable approach. My tablet screen is a mirror of my desktop screen, so I’m quite comfortable on the go because I have everything my office desktop has — fully-versioned –and more. I don’t worry about compatibility issues, and since it’s a Windows environment that I am accustomed to, I don’t waste time learning a new system.
More? My tablet has front and rear-facing cameras. That’s good, because the two cameras help facilitate video communications with my home base lawyers and with volunteer lawyers. The cameras also aid in distance training and in using the video features of Skype.
My tablet also has a VPN for securely connecting to the office network. And our case management system is open to volunteer lawyers to view and administer their cases, so a tablet would allow them access to case information.
As desktop virtualization is rolled out in the next few months in my program, our IT staff can easily create special “pro bono machines” with all the kinds of features you mention for our volunteers to use– not just on tablets we supply, but on tablets owned by our volunteer lawyers. We can create just about any desktop a volunteer might need to do the job we need of her.
So, Claudia, thanks for highlighting some great ideas.