HACKING THE FUTURE
OF CANADA'S LANGUAGE INDUSTRY
mcis language solutions
(un) Conference 2017
AUTHORS AND COLLABORATORS
hacking the future - challenges and opportunities
FACILITATORS, PARTNERS AND AUDIENCE
TERMS AND ACRONYMS
Language Service Gaps
Language Service Technology Gaps
CONCLUSION AND NEXT STEPS
Table of Contents
“The face of Canada is changing rapidly as is the manner in which we are interacting and transacting with the rest of the world; fresh insights and digital tools are constantly providing new ways to support translation, interpretation and all other language services. We are committed to being leaders in bridging the language gap.” - Latha Sukumar, MCIS Executive Director
Inspired by conversations we have had over the years with language professionals, front line staff and public officials, background research informing the development of our own Theory of Change, and the WelcomeHomeTO Lessons from Month 13 Report published in January 2017, that identified language as the most significant barrier to the integration of newcomers, the objective of our gathering was to bring together people from all walks of life to engage in a conversation about the future of access to language services .
The (un)Conference, held at the Centre for Social Innovation Annex, had no fixed speakers or agenda other than trying to be faithful to the general principles of (un)Conferencing: “whoever shows up is the right group; whatever happens is the right thing; whenever it starts is the right time; when it's over, it's over.”
Of course, there was also an opportunity to network, socialize and sample excellent food provided by the New Canadian Kitchen of the Arab Community Centre of Toronto.
After brief introductions by Latha Sukumar (MCIS Executive Director) and Craig Carter-Edwards (WelcomeHomeTO Co-Founder) outlining the high level details and introducing facilitators and note takers, participants seated themselves at their table of interest.
We would like to express our deepest appreciation to all those who made it possible to complete this report. First, we would like to acknowledge, with much appreciation, the crucial role of the individuals who envisioned, logistically guided and facilitated our (un)Conference: members of MCIS’ Marketing and Operations Committee, Eliana Trinaistic (MCIS), Zoya Khan (MCIS) and Craig Carter-Edwards (WelcomeHomeTO) for envisioning, planning and connecting the dots, as well as Hilda Wu (Allstate Canada Group), Monica Franklin, Latha Sukumar (MCIS) and Veronica Costea (MCIS) for facilitating conversations. Next, our gratitude goes to our team of dedicated event volunteers whose contribution and coordination of the efforts behind the scenes made this event possible: Andrea Levin, Deanna Nemeth, Eric Ngoc, Gabriela Rodas, Ixchel Cervantes, Luisa M. Cano, Paawan Bhatia, Princess Hew and Vivek Vijayapalan. Last but not least, many thanks to all of the (un)Conference participants who have invested their time and effort in contributing professional and lived experiences to share their vision, comments and advice.
This report was prepared collaboratively by Eliana Trinaistic, Zoya Khan and Veronica Costea.
Disclaimer The views, opinions, positions and/or recommendations proposed herein are those of the participants alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of language professionals, people interested or involved with the language industry professionally or as volunteers. MCIS makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, reliability, non-infringement or currency of any information in this report, and will not be liable for any errors. or omissions in this information, or any losses, costs, injuries or damages arising from its display, use or publication.
As an intro to the challenges, the audience got a sneak peek at WelcomeHomeTO’s upcoming report: Breaking the Language Barrier: Innovative Language Solutions Helping Syrian Newcomers on the Path of Integration. Some of the problems highlighted in this report are a lack of coordination between language service providers, challenges accessing language learning due to lack of relevant services (e.g. daycare services nearby) and a lack of rigorous assessment of program outcomes.
The ground rules established called for respecting everyone’s opinions, asking everyone to contribute, staying focused solely on the topic, and avoiding speaking on behalf of stakeholder groups.
The conversation was then split into two parts: the first to define the challenges or gaps, and the second to identify the solutions.
We hoped that having a good mix of language professionals and individuals from the social and private sectors with relevant experiences in the room would help us tackle larger, systemic questions and inspire broad, holistic thinking about how access to language services of the future can be innovated.
The next section of this report will highlight each of the four conversations in more detail.
MCIS Language Solutions is a non-profit that has evolved into a model social enterprise relentlessly pursuing its mission to improve access to critical information and services by removing language barriers for over 25 years. With 50 full time staff and a roster of over 5000 interpreters and translators, MCIS provides a full suite of language solutions: from language interpretation, translation and transcription to localization, subtitling and training development for government, legal, police services and health care organizations in more than 300 languages.
MCIS’ core values (respect, quality, collaboration, accountability, learning), embedded in its vision to connect people globally through languages, are really about communication: to build authentic, transparent and trusted bridges world-wide that will break down silos between people and languages, fueling mobility and prosperity. Every year, MCIS invests a portion of its net income into initiatives that support: free services for vulnerable populations (victims of violence, the homeless, refugees), scholarships for aspiring interpreters and translators, and advocacy initiatives to improve access or understanding around access to language services as a human right. With a growing demand for language services, a long track record of success, and deep roots in the community, MCIS has positioned itself to capture more market share in the language industry by simply demonstrating there is a socially responsible way of conducting business.
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FACILITATORS , PARTNERS and AUDIENCE
Monica Franklin is a member of MCIS’ Nominations and Governance Committee, a lawyer, and a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Ontario Bar. Monica has worked as a lawyer in the legal clinic system for many years, focusing on the low income and vulnerable members of the community and their access to programs and services. Most recently, she was a staff lawyer and social assistance team lead at Flemingdon Community Legal Services in Toronto, where she represented low-income clients at tribunals and mediations, and coordinated, supervised and trained staff, and volunteers. Previously she worked as a legal reviewer and researcher at Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO), translating public information literature for non-legal audiences.
Hilda Wu is a member of MCIS’ Finance Committee. With more than a decade of managerial experience across various finance functions, Hilda is involved with financial reporting, financial planning & forecasting, strategic analysis, process improvements and internal controls. She worked collaboratively across organizations to improve spend discipline resulting in having the second lowest expense ratios among key industry players. Hilda currently works as Manager, Business Planning & Analysis at Allstate Canada Group, where she leads a team of analysts responsible for the annual P&L planning, margin and growth management, and strategic decision support. She is also on the Board of Directors at The York Centre for Children, Youth and Families.
FACILITATORS AND PARTNERS
The ACCT New Canadians Kitchen is an initiative of the Arab Community Centre of Toronto. The kitchen is run exclusively by newcomer women and provides traditional Middle Eastern Cuisine appetizers, main courses and desserts, as well as cooking classes. This kitchen is a place of healing and is looking for donations and volunteers.
WelcomeHomeTO is a group of professionals from various disciplines with the shared goal of supporting the best settlement experience for new Canadians, starting with resettled refugees in Toronto.
Veronica Costea, MCIS’ Translation and Special Projects Manager, is a certified translator and accredited community interpreter with over 10 years of experience in the language services industry. Prior to joining MCIS she has worked as a freelance language professional, language teacher, as well as in computational linguistics research.
Veronica is passionate about access to critical information and services and to languages as a human right. She is also a seasoned training program developer. She coordinated the development of MCIS’ Online Training Initiative to Address Human Trafficking and envisioned the newly released MCIS Translator Training Program.
Latha Sukumar, MCIS’ Executive Director, was recognized as one of 15 lawyers in the country who have contributed to furthering equality rights by the Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF). Since Latha joined the organization as its Executive Director in 1996, MCIS has grown into a social enterprise that provides a comprehensive suite of interpretation, translation, language testing and training services. Latha has an LL.B. and Masters in Women’s Studies, both from York University. An advocate for the rights of newcomers, Latha has served on a number of community boards - Healthcare Interpretation Network, Women Abuse Council of Toronto, Women’s College Hospital and Immigrant Women’s Health Centre to name a few. She has spoken in the media, before legislative committees and at public gatherings on victim rights issues.
The Centre for Social Innovation CSI Community is home to 1,000 non-profits, charities and social ventures in Toronto alone, employs over 2,500 people, and generates combined annual revenues of $250 million. They support members with the spaces, knowledge, tools, resources and connections they need to grow their impact.
We had over 40 individuals in the room, mostly interpreters and translators, representatives from the non-profit and for-profit sectors, staff, MCIS Committee and Board members. In addition, half that number followed us online, on Facebook and Twitter.
The following tweet: “@MCISLanguages @OpenCCE @RyersonFCAD @WelcomeHomeTO We need standardized #opendata sets and #designthinking. It is not about asking for more. It is about #disrupting systems & allocation.” generated the largest engagement, indicating that, perhaps, the discussion around redesigning service delivery systems is a very much needed public conversation piece that should be revisited in the near future.
“WelcomeHomeTO’s English as Second Language panel chat surfaced a lot of structural challenges in how Canada offers language learning to newcomers. MCIS is taking the next step and innovating ideas to strengthen the system.”
– Craig Carter-Edwards, Co-founder of WelcomeHomeTO
As we increasingly communicate and engage across the world’s hundreds of languages thanks to the advances in technology and speech processing tools that are helping us bridge language barriers, we are also faced with the growing realization that having access to information and services in a language we understand is a human right. The participants at The Future of Language Services (Un) Conference explored some of the challenges language professionals (LPs) and end users of their services face in Canada and around the globe, in order to envision solutions to overcome them. The challenges explored included the gaps in the current system for the provision of language services, who is being missed and why, the changing nature of the language industry and funding for language support, as well as the business models that are on the horizon. Participants also looked at the tech community to understand how digital tools can effectively and efficiently facilitate innovation for better language access, and improve general outcomes by harnessing government assets.
Given that the number of Canadians whose mother tongue is a language other than English or French is on the rise (Statistics Canada), it is critical to address some of these structural challenges now. The conversations at the (Un)conference focused on 4 key questions:
(i) What kinds of assets need to be created or released from the government (municipal, provincial, and federal) in relation to language access services?
(ii) What are the gaps in the language services field and what can we do about them?
(iii) How can technology help improve language access for vulnerable populations?
(iv) From a business model perspective, is the language sector prepared for the next 5 to 10 years?
Some of the challenges that participants identified related to access to government funding and resources.
- investing in technology which can streamline services in the non-profit settlement and language services sectors;
- providing smart phones loaded with relevant apps to refugees so they can access remote language services, reducing the cost of providing them face-to-face;
- re-allocating money set aside for official language services to “working languages" (the most prevalent in our demographically diverse country), thereby facilitating better integration and the removal of barriers to ensure economic well-being.
On the other side, an ongoing conversation about the role of the freelancing economy in relation to other segments demonstrated that freelancers are clearly at a disadvantage.
Freelancers do help governments and businesses to promote efficiency-driven economic performance by reducing barriers to market entry and creating minimum efficient scale. They also enable non-profits, government and businesses to maximise performance across peaks in demand.
However, government commitment to freelancers and contractors needs yet to be demonstrated by concrete actions, like providing benefits they do not currently have access to, such as extended medical.
Finally, the ubiquitous technology penetrating all discussions provided some innovative options in relation to relieving pressure at the entry point in the settlement of refugees by means of using smart phones with settlement related applications in addition to meeting settlement workers one on one.
HACKING THE FUTURE -
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
(i) What kinds of assets need to be created or released from the government (municipal, provincial and federal) in relation to access to language services?
Besides tangible assets, such as real and personal property, government assets include monitoring and maintenance of intangible assets e.g. intellectual property, goodwill or human capital. Human capital, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the skills the labor force possesses […] regarded as a resource or asset”, encompasses the notion that investments in people’s education, training, working conditions or health is essential, because it positively influences productivity and quality of life. This issue of releasing government assets is particularly timely because the provincial government (Ministry of Finance) is partnering with Ryerson's FCAD for a planned event in fall 2017 on sharing government assets with social enterprises. In the context of understanding what kinds of assets are needed, this group discussed advocacy for better access to government assets, in particular those that are relevant to language professionals and recipients of language services. Some of the challenges/ government assets that are lacking were:
(a) Public and other means of transport for freelancers (inclusive of interpreters, contract, temporary and precarious workers):
- Freelancers often have to turn down assignments because they have difficulty getting to locations outside of perimeters of reach; mileage or parking fees are not reimbursed, further eroding already modest pay while discouraging fulfillment of services.
(b) Technology-based, simplified and streamlined service delivery with embedded advocacy tools:
- Agencies providing access to languages need to implement better technology but they also need it at an affordable cost (consortium purchasing power); such technology will ensure streamlined invoicing and service delivery.
- These tools could also incorporate e-learning programs and standards for professional development as well as public education courses about language rights.
(c) Free community spaces for language-related social causes, such as projects that promote diversity, inclusion, language learning and multilingualism.
releasing government assets - solutions
1. The government needs to subsidize all types of critical language services for the purpose of ensuring that all segments of the population will have the access they need:
- Use grants and fund programs serving vulnerable populations in a way that ensures that both interpretation and translation will be available at all times.
- Design grants so as to reimburse the cost of transportation so that freelancers are not economically hurt.
2. The government should allow for teleconferencing and new technologies (virtual tools) to be used in lieu of face-to-face assignments whenever possible and appropriate. This is where the savings can be achieved, to be passed down to agencies and freelancers.
3. Government needs to demonstrate its commitment to freelancers by providing benefits and rebates, such as discounts on car insurance and rentals, subsidized training, extended medical and health care insurance, and other benefits they do not currently have access to:
- Freelance work is currently overlooked by the government, and enthusiasm for developing programs that support enterprising immigrant and newcomer freelancers should be revived.
- Better recognition of freelancers in general might encourage entrepreneurial attitudes by allowing individuals to take more control in increasingly digital value chains.
- The group also addressed the importance of freelancers being engaged with self-advocacy efforts e.g. to organize or find organizations that are already providing support of a similar type to represent them and negotiate on their behalf.
(ii) What are the gaps in the language services field and what can we do about them?
Participants at this table explored the question: What does “language services” mean at a time when the language industry has been significantly transformed by new and disruptive technologies?
As a group, they identified language services on a spectrum from the more easily recognizable ones, such as interpretation, translation and bridging language gaps, to the “social” (helping with access to government services, removing language barriers for newcomer communities, providing access to legal and medical services, notarizing, interpreter and translator training—increasing the human capital by creating qualified resources) to “cultural and educational” (expanding social networks, overcoming cultural gaps, access to entertainment/ media/news by providing audiovisual translation services). The most important challenges or perceived threats to language industry professionals were the following:
(a) Immigration strategy: participants assumed that the future will need less interpreters because immigration strategies favour newcomers already fluent in official languages.
(b) Technology, especially machine translation, may decrease the need for translators. Despite not being able to detect nuances and non-verbal cues, artificial intelligence is developing at a very fast pace, potentially affecting the bottom line.
(c) Education: as various fields are increasingly becoming more specialized, so the need for specialized training is growing.
(d) Languages of lesser diffusion (rare languages) remain underserved.
(e) Standardized processes: lack of an organized approach to language services (no unified standards across all systems, within provinces or federally). The group also discussed examples of national standards for language service provision used in other countries which can apply to Canada, and decided that more research in this area will be needed.
Group 3 focused on the use of technology to improve the lives of newcomers, refugees, and other vulnerable populations.
Participants began by defining “vulnerable populations” as those without access to language services, which can impede the ability of the individual to access important services (such as medical or legal services).
They then defined “technology” (devices, apps, programs, and the like) and noted that the lack of access to technology among vulnerable populations increases their degree of vulnerability and deepens the digital divide.
With that in mind, the table focused on one singular challenge throughout their discussion - how can we help vulnerable people with no access to technology leverage tools that are already available and that could help them overcome language barriers (e.g. machine translation)?
The discussion evolved around what is already being done, comparable technology solutions that already exist, apps that are already helping people with language access, the pros and cons of developing new apps versus using what is already available and can be enhanced, and how it can be determined if it is useful to make changes to existing tools or to create new tools.
Participants acknowledged that whereas there are numerous apps and tools that could and, in many situations, do help remove language barriers, it is often people who are vulnerable and who need these services most that also lack access to these technologies (e.g. the elderly, refugees), which further increases their vulnerability.
The solutions that this group collectively agreed upon as the most useful are summarized below.
resolving language service gaps - solutions
1. Language professionals need to evolve and adapt to a transformed industry that relies increasingly on technology and the provision of non-traditional language services:
- LPs may consider working as post-editors, translating emojis or as video conferencing interpreters to name a few, continuously adding new skills to the linguistic base;
- Training programs should offer a much wider range of options to ensure LPs will be able to cope with the growth of highly specialized fields and technology disruptions;
- The government should consider increased funding for specialized training. Investing in training leads to better LPs and better quality services to newcomers and people with language barriers.
2. There should be a minimum language support package for all newcomers (regardless of number of users), which is in line with Canada’s appreciation for diversity. Language services are essential for quick and smooth settlement and integration and should be treated as such.
3. In addition to the concept of official languages, the concept of working languages should be recognized, developed and supported in Canada.
- By adopting the concept of working languages to include those languages most in use by the demographic, the government will reach a much greater number of constituents;
- If the number of French speakers in any given geographic area is equal to zero, working languages should be allocated support from the bilingual compliance budget;
- This strategy may potentially invite investments because foreign investors will feel welcomed and encouraged not only to scale up but also to explore business development opportunities created exclusively for language-specific communities.
We Love Our Employees
(iii) How can technology help improve language access for vulnerable populations?
(iv) From a business model perspective, how is the language sector prepared for the next 5 to 10 years?
This group started by discussing the current business model of language service delivery and how the sector is getting ready for the future.
They discussed various issues, including the change in demand for language services, and the lack of access to services for newcomers.
Two main challenges to the language industry were identified:
(a) Perceived high entry barriers to professional training for LPs:
- Lack of awareness about the importance of having trained LPs as a risk avoidance strategy, especially in legal and health settings;
- Cost or perception of current skills as a barrier for newcomers to access training where getting access to professional language training can increase their job opportunities.
(b) Regulatory issues:
- LPs as freelancers have no protection from loss of wages or jobs;
- There is lack of transparency in terms of how interpreters are hired, retained and engaged (e.g. preferred);
- Loss of earnings on the account of mileage and travel costs that they have to incur out of pocket .
language service technology - solutions
1. Free smart phones with basic data plan provided to refugees and newcomers at the point of entry that will be subsidized by the government or telecom industry for a limited period of time (first 60-90 days).
- The government would consider this option if there was solid evidence that the provision of more expensive face-to-face services would be reduced;
- Corporations may consider this because it could promote the brand and generate revenue after the initial trial period;
- With this option available, newcomers would potentially adjust to the system faster and be incentivized to act in a self-sufficient manner, including finding jobs more quickly, so they can retain the services.
2. All smart phones should be equipped with useful pre-installed settlement apps.
- The useful pre-installed apps (Google Translate, job banks, housing, health information, basic translation) must have a lot of pictures and easy to use interfaces;
- There should be a human element embedded in the apps, such as video conferencing that allows the user access to live services, including an interpreter when needed (such as Skype).
3. To provide inexpensive or free language services to the most vulnerable, there should be a platform to connect language volunteers with end users. Language volunteers do not necessarily need to be professional interpreters, and can serve as career mentors, settlement advisors or cultural mediators interested to help and be engaged.
4. All these services should also be available at self-serve kiosks situated across the city (e.g. transit stations etc.) with the same applications installed.
5. Some of these solutions should explore private-public partnerships: to be funded by the government, but run privately by business or social enterprises to avoid being threatened by liability issues.
“We wanted to bring not only language professionals, but people from all walks of life into the conversation. This way, we bring a holistic perspective to the room and come up with the right ideas to help modernize the language services field.”
– Zoya Khan, (Un) Conference Event Manager
the future of the language sector - solutions
1. Like other groups, this group strongly agreed that language service providers, especially in the non-profit sector, should lobby the government for more funding. Access to critical information and vital services makes it possible for people to fully participate in civic life and in turn helps communities remain prosperous.
The government should subsidize access to services so that they become more affordable. They should consider funding interpreter training, especially for newcomers, which, in turn, will increase employment.
2. If funds for services are not available, the services will not be delivered. Thus, it is important for language professionals to understand who is representing them and actively seek the support of local politicians to advance their cause.
LPs might also connect with larger organizations, such as the University Health Network (UHN), that have experts and consultants who can help with building the language industry moving forward.
3. The group also discussed the possibility of creating a decentralized freelance exchange platform for language services as one of the possible models in the future. This platform would store projects and reviews while allowing LPs to connect to customers directly instead of being facilitated by the 3rd party.
4. Lastly, to improve regulation, there is a need to advocate for LPs' rights and increase general protection for freelancers under labour laws (Employment Standards Act). Although freelancers play a key role in promoting efficiency-driven economic performance, the key here is to ensure that financial constraints are reduced.
AND NEXT STEPS
"Innovating and evolving with technologies while keeping the needs of the end users front and centre."
The MCIS (un)Conference was successful in creating a large number of plausible propositions by applying a simple filter of “what is missing” in the language services field so it will be able to innovate.
Some of those propositions included:
(i) Advocating for digital government (as defined by OECD) to encourage, support and fund data-driven culture in the public sector and partner with the tech community, NPOs and social enterprises to improve the access to and delivery of services for the purpose of streamlining public procurement, reducing cost and improving transparency, accountability and social inclusiveness.
(ii) Advocating on behalf of LP freelancers for access to decent work. Despite creating value for both the public and the private sector, freelancers are not given the same value in return.
(iii) Researching national standards on the use of working languages in parallel to official languages in other countries and advocating for applying them to the Canadian context.
How Our Number One Selling Product is Doing
Only the combination of both will ensure that users’ experience, supported by data, will have a full spectrum of emotional resonance as a value proposition.
In non-profits, emotional values drive our day to day engagement. Our work responds to basic human needs as well as individual desires and aspirations by which we create engagement and experience.
What we are often lacking is solid data or the logic behind the commitment to change and accountability.
In that context, MCIS aims to bring some of the (un)Conference ideas to life, with four concrete steps:
(iv) Advocating for the government to fund or partner in distributing smart phones with language related apps installed to newcomers and refugees at the point of entry to achieve cost savings and make their transition to Canada easier.
(v) Innovating and evolving with technologies while keeping the needs of the end users front and centre. This can take the shape of undertaking a larger collective impact grant as a backbone organization, active participation in the creation of tools that will utilize the power of shared economy (free services) or shared data (streamlined services).
Moving forward, it is clear that there is an opportunity for MCIS Language Solutions to step in and provide opportunities for partnering in various areas of need.
In this excellent article, Use Design Thinking to Build Commitment to a New Idea, Roger. L. Martin notes that “strong logic alone is not enough to generate commitment to a new idea because logic alone makes us emotionally uncomfortable [...] Thus, great intervention design requires attention to both logic and emotions – equally.”
2. Participating in Ryerson ShareON design jam
This design jam seeks to explore the use of surplus Ontario government assets to help in the creation of new social enterprises and to enhance the existing ones through the sharing economy.
We are particularly interested in conversations about how government assets could be released to benefit freelancers, contract and temporary workers in all areas and across all income levels.
1. MCIS Language Impact Challenge Grant ($25,000)
On September 1, 2017 we are releasing a grant intended to address gaps in funding for language advocacy in Ontario. With this grant we seek to support innovative proposals that incorporate creative and unique ways in which people of diverse backgrounds can be engaged to advocate for language rights.
To apply, or get more information, visit MCIS' Language Impact Challenge page.
Over the 25 years MCIS has provided language services across Canada we've come to grow in our understanding of our role as advocates for language-based human rights, particularly now when representation, diversity, and unity is more important than ever. We see ourselves as a connector for innovative, inclusion-oriented agents across sectors in this context. - Eliana Trinaistic, Social Impact Manager, MCIS
And from here, tactical next steps will emerge - but more importantly, language services related networks might expand.
We welcome everyone who currently operates in language services related fields, individuals affiliated with data in immigration, languages and settlement sectors, those who are actively advocating for language rights, or anyone who wants to help build more language-accessible communities across Canada to join us and work together on our shared goal – to understand how to embed language access into human rights and remove barriers to access information and services or to participate and integrate in daily life.
Stay in touch!
3. Migrahack TO November 3-5, 2017
In November we are hosting a 2.5 day community -based hackathon: Migrahack. In collaboration with WelcomeHomeTO, MCIS will be gathering non-profits from the settlement sector, journalists, developers and professionals from diverse disciplines who are curious about immigration data and collaboration on open data projects. We will learn basic data visualization and use data sets to collaboratively develop powerful, evidence based stories. Please visit migrahackto.com to find out more or to sign up for the event.
4. Finally, prompted by an idea shared by MCIS’ Arabic translator and interpreter Amal Dweik, we are interested in developing an initiative that will help us allocate our free services better. We are actively looking for a partner – developer to either expand one of the existing platforms/ apps or to develop a brand new one that will connect language volunteers and mentors with end users.
If you have the skill set or are interested in collaborating, let us know!
TERMS and ACRONYMS
Access to critical information - those forms of information and services that are necessary for citizens and community members to enjoy full protection of their human rights so they can live safe and healthy lives; have full access to educational, employment, and business opportunities; and fully participate in the civic and democratic lives of their communities should they choose to do so. They include but are not limited to the following 8 areas: 1. Emergencies and risks; 2. Health and welfare, including specifically local health information as well as group specific health information where it exists; 3. Education, including the quality of local schools and choices available to parents; 4. Transportation, including available alternatives, costs, and schedules; 5. Economic opportunities, including job information, job training, and small business assistance; 6. The environment, including air and water quality and access to recreation; 7. Civic information, including the availability of civic institutions and opportunities to associate with others; and legal information, including rights, protections and obligations under the constitution, common law and all statutes as it applies to their day to day lives and 8. Political information, including information about candidates at all relevant levels of local governance, relevant public policy initiatives affecting communities and neighborhood. (Friedland, Napoli, Ognyanova and Wilson).
In order to build trust, information needs to be accurate and consistent. Given the changing information landscape, the multiple actors involved, and the wide circulation of contradictions, providing accurate and consistent information on many topics is a must.
The right to access critical information and services - is the right and opportunity to benefit from and use critical information and services.
Collective Impact –is a framework to tackle deeply entrenched and complex social problems. It is an innovative and structured approach to making collaboration work across government, business, philanthropy, non-profit organizations and citizens to achieve significant and lasting social change.
Language Barrier – is a construct that describes linguistic barriers to communication (i.e. people or groups speaking different languages or dialects). The issue of language barriers is critical during any inter-cultural service encounter where the customer and the service provider come from different backgrounds and the service needs to be provided based on a set of shared assumptions.
Minimum Language Support Package – similar to the minimum initial services packages provided by the WHO, our government could develop a core package of minimum language support interventions that are in place at the points of entry. The objectives of this package would be to prevent and manage consequences of not having access to critical information, raise awareness about language and cultural barriers and coordinate responses between health, community, security and protection services. The package would also identify an organization to coordinate and implement the package, plan for provision of services integrated into the entire settlement sector and collect background data.
Newcomer Vs. Refugee – a newcomer is an immigrant new to Canada. While refugees are immigrants, the term “refugee” emphasizes forced migration because of persecution or fear of persecution based on race, religion, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Theory of Change (TOC) - is a tool for developing solutions to complex social problems and producing long-range results. TOC articulates the assumptions about the process of change and specifies the ways in which all of the outcomes are related and will be documented to arrive at the desired long-term change.
Unconference - is a conference without predefined topics. There is a high level structure and theme, but actual topics are generated on the spot with breakout groups formed based on interest and relevance. This flexible and participant-driven agenda and structure is useful when you are seeking spontaneous, informal conversations amongst people who don’t work together but are interested to get to know each other, exchange knowledge, and build trust.
Working Language - is where a language is given special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a country's official language refers to the language used within government (e.g., courts, parliament, administration). For Canada, these are French and English (since 1969). A working language (also procedural language) is a language that is given a unique legal status in a supranational company, society, state or other body or organization as its primary means of communication. For example, Ethiopia is currently implementing the concept of working languages where Afan Oromo will serve as a working language in the city of Addis Ababa along with the official Amharic language.
AUTHORS and COLLABORATORS
Eliana Trinaistic, MCIS Zoya Khan, MCIS Craig Carter-Edwards
Social Impact Manager Social Impact/ PR Director, WelcomeHomeTO
Director, Why Should I Care
Veronica Costea, MCIS
MCIS LANGUAGE Solutions
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