Language Justice Principles for Everyday Practice and During COVID-19

Casey Payton, Joann Lee, Ana Paula Noguez Mercado, and Alena Uliasz
Interpreters are learning to work remotely by receiving training on privacy concerns, equipment, and protocols.

Interpreters are learning to work remotely by receiving training on privacy concerns, equipment, and protocols.

fizkes/iStock/Getty Images Plus via GettyImages

Read the full version of this article and watch the replay of the Language Justice During COVID-19 webinar (June 3, 2020).

Practicing social distancing, I virtually sat down with Alena Uliasz, Joann Lee, and Ana Paula Noguez Mercado, co-authors of Language Justice in Legal Services published in the Management Innovation Exchange (MIE) for Legal Aid Journal. During our interview, I received tips for ways lawyers can use language justice principles in our everyday practice and during COVID-19. 

What is language justice?

Language justice is an evolving framework based on the notion of respecting every individual’s fundamental language rights—to be able to communicate, understand, and be understood in the language in which they prefer and feel most articulate and powerful. Rejecting the notion of the supremacy of one language, it recognizes that language can be a tool of oppression, and as well as an important part of exercising autonomy and of advancing racial and social justice. 

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