What can we do to make life easier for migrants? For over two years, Capeesh has worked with easyRights, an EU Horizon project. The goal of the project is to make access to public services easier for migrants. Understanding a country’s legal processes is often pretty complicated even for those born in a country. Imagine dealing with bureaucracy in a new language you don’t yet understand and with no bridging language to help you. This is the situation for many migrants all over the world.
This is why Capeesh joined easyRights in combining co-creation and AI technology to make it easier for migrants to understand and access the services they are entitled to.
Major Cities of Europe
Last week Capeesh got a chance to present the outcomes of the EasyRights project at a conference in Larissa, Greece, called ‘Major Cities of Europe: From Chaos to Cosmos’. A very prominent topic was how digital tools can be used to empower citizens and civil servants in light of unforeseen changes and pressures, such as the pandemic, war, immigration, refugees, inflation, and economic slowdown. Thus, the easyRights solution fits in well by being able to quickly adapt to rapid changes in migration flows and procedures, and empowering the newly arrived and the civil servants to interact more effectively. Read more in depth here.
Image: The EasyRights project at a conference in Larissa, Greece, called ‘Major Cities of Europe’
The easyRights project is coming to a close in November. The main result of the easyRights project is an ecosystem supporting migrants in accessing their rights, including standardization efforts through the Mediation Grammar, a co-creation ecosystem in the pilot cities through hackathons, and the digital tools that help municipalities and NGOs to provide tailored information and language support to migrants in their host countries. As a part of the easyRights digital solution, Capeesh tailored language courses help migrants to overcome the linguistic, informational and cultural barriers when accessing their rights.
Image: Picture of (from left) Grazia Concilio (Politecnico di Milano), Inna Tolskaya (Capeesh) and Anna Koronioti (Institute of Entrepreneurship Development). At the stand, they talked about what makes life easier for migrants.
The Mediation Grammar is a collection of minimal requirements for enforcing the informational rights of immigrants in the EU. It aims to provide a common basis for the harmonization of public services throughout Europe. Now, the Mediation Grammar is under a formal procedure to become recognised by the CEN (European Committee for Standardization).
The four pilot cities are Palermo (Italy), Larissa (Greece), Malaga (Spain) and Birmingham (English). In the beginning of the project, each pilot city selected two initial services to tackle.
The problems selected by the pilot cities were very varied in concreteness and granularity, some very specific like filling out a birth registration form in Larissa, while others very general and complex such as applying for asylum in Malaga.
The eight selected services are:
- Birmingham Service 1: Supporting Migrants to check if their vehicle is compliant for the Clean Air Zone and apply for exemptions if necessary
- Birmingham Service 2: Step by step guide to register and complete an assessment tool to access learning English as a Second Language
- Larissa. Service 1: Birth Registration
- Larissa. Service 2: Certification of residence
- Málaga. Service 1: Asylum Seeking
- Málaga. Service 2: Guide to Employment
- Palermo. Service 1: Registration to the Registry Office
- Palermo. Service 2: Job seeking and orientation
Image: Picture of each participating city in Europe: Birmingham, Larissa, Málaga and Palermo.
The easyRights consortium comprises 14 partners from 7 different European countries: Austria, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Norway, Spain and UK. Partners represent academia, private enterprises and NGOs, as well as public administration bodies.
Capeesh is one of the three technical partners together with LINKS and NTNU, using technology to make complex bureaucratic procedures more understandable and accessible. As a result of collaboration of migration specialists, linguists, ICT experts and designs, the easyRights agent emerged, acting as a gateway to pathways to services and relevant language training.
Image: Happy picture of all the partners in easyRights.
The easyRights agent designed to make life easier for migrants
All the three components of the easyRights solution can be accessed through a unique access point – a multilingual chatbot in Telegram.
The first component, the pathway generator, uses Artificial Intelligence to automatically generate easy instructions starting from a bulk of textual information describing a given service. It helps to understand what needs to be done in order to access a certain service and presents the procedure as a series of clear steps, each described in terms of where, when, and how.
However, having arrived at the correct place, on time, and with a correct stack of documents, the migrants still need to interact with the officials, who most likely do not speak their language.
This is why the other two components: Capeesh and CALST provide task oriented and user-tailored language training.
In order to access the courses, the chatbot suggests that users download the Capeesh app and provide a username, which is automatically added to the relevant course, so that they can immediately access the course tailored for their needs.
Capeesh courses focus on memorizing key vocabulary and phrases and practice the conversations they’ll have in real life in a playful app. The third component – CALST pronunciation training – concentrates on correct pronunciations, and offers exercises based on comparing the target language with the user’s native language, targeting specifically the sounds they are likely to have trouble with.
Capeesh courses enable migrants to interact with the service providers
Using the same governmental webpages and complex descriptions of services as the Pathway Generator, Capeesh uses AI to extract a ‘survival kit’ with the crucial words and phrases one should memorize to be able to approach the service. In addition, it is possible, upon request and in collaboration with the stake-holders, to create interactive branching scenarios, where the end user can practice typical conversations in realistic simulated dialogues.
The most important thing for Capeesh is that the learners actually speak, and the Capeesh role plays teach the content, and help practice some of the relevant conversations a newcomer might encounter in her/his new life – and become confident enough to have the conversations in real life.
Eight courses in four languages
Using the same governmental webpages and complex descriptions of services as the Pathway Generator, Capeesh uses AI to extract a ‘survival kit’ with the crucial words and phrases one should memorize to be able to approach the service. In addition, it is possible, upon request and in collaboration with the stake-holders, to create interactive branching scenarios, where the end user can practice typical conversations in realistic simulated dialogues. The most important thing for Capeesh is that the learners actually speak, and the Capeesh role plays teach the content, and help practice some of the relevant conversations a newcomer might encounter in her/his new life – and become confident enough to have the conversations in real life.
To tackle each problem selected by the pilots, Capeesh has created eight courses in four languages (English, Spanish, Italian and Greek). To achieve that, Capeesh has had to learn some new languages – and now it even speaks Italian and Greek. So, it is now possible to practice the Greek vocabulary for birth registration and application for residence as well as Italian vocabulary for completing registration and applying for work permission.
In the Birmingham pilot, one can learn the necessary vocabulary for dealing with applying for free ESL courses and with Clean Air Zone restrictions and exemptions. One can also make a practice phone call to Birmingham City Council in a role-play exercise.
The services selected by the Malaga pilot are applying for Asylum and looking for a job. Thus, the Spanish courses present the necessary vocabulary and one can also practice answering typical questions for the Asylum interview.
A complex procedure, solved by dividing it into smaller steps
Thus the three solutions together makes life easier for migrants. They enable migrants to make use of their rights by providing a digital guide with language support to help them through the steps of the procedure. Once a complex procedure is divided into smaller steps described in clear terms, and accompanied by the targeted courses to learn the relevant legal jargon and terms, it will become less intimidating and more accessible. Being able to prepare for standard interactions by practicing in advance in the app, and then successfully achieving a task, will give the migrants a feeling of mastery and autonomy, encouraging them to use the local language more confidently.
Want to learn more about how Capeesh makes life easier for migrants, read here.