MCIS Language Services, The Language Heat Map

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1. History - Founded in 1989, MCIS Language Services has been pursuing its vision to remove language barriers for over 25 years. Over the years MCIS has evolved into a model social enterprise providing interpretation, translation and transcription services in over 200 languages. MCIS’ growth into a successful organization with its commitment to bottom line objectives – sound finances, protection of human rights and diversity – has been the direct result of exemplary leadership on its Board, competent staff and the contribution of our language professionals, volunteers and interns.

We create our social impact by focusing on our six primary objectives:

a) improving access to language services for non-English speaking victims of domestic violence/sexual assault/human trafficking and homeless persons;

b)influencing streamlined access to public sector services for vulnerable newcomers;

c) subsidizing education for eligible newcomers to enable faster integration into society;

d) educating public service providers and creating public education partnerships (e.g. with Ministry of the Attorney General we developed the Online Training Initiative to Address Human Trafficking in 2014);

e) providing employment opportunities to people who face barriers to employment, and

f) advocating for language rights.

Current samples of our successful programs are:

• Docs for Change (2013-15), a two-year, Trillium funded program in collaboration with Doc Institute, Toronto appointed the very first generation of Fellows with a task to develop their documentary viewing skills and create film clubs providing opportunities for community dialogue and social change.!conference-highlights/cotf

• Social Impact of Translation (2014-16) brought together translators and language right activists who believe that translators are the key instrument to ensuring access to human rights and freedom of expression. Moderated conversations across the GTA are starting in January, 2016.

• Food for Language (2013), MCIS’ collaborative recipe book and collection of narratives captured the dynamic relationship between food and personal narratives while reminding the audience about how food transcends culture and contributes to Canada’s multicultural fabric and global citizenship. All proceeds of the book are used to help renew the Community Kitchen program at the Sandgate Shelter (available on Amazon in printed and Kindle version).

2. Request - Over the past 10 years a large number of public-sector organizations have been embracing open data as a way to ensure transparency and visibility of government decision-making processes. Efforts to provide access to open data have the potential to generate economic and social value for all industries, including the language industry. As the open data movement is getting more potent and cities and states are reconfirming commitments to transparency, data visualization is becoming a fundamental tool for governments to interact with their stakeholders. For that particular purpose, heat-maps have proven to be very useful, and in that context, MCIS Social Innovation Lab is interested in using available data sets and work with language industry professionals to ensure that all critical language data will be adequately represented within the larger set of urban indicators, which is certainly not the case at the moment.

Our desire is to create a “heat map” of real time language service needs across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) capturing the actual service delivery while debunking myths about ”languages of lower and higher diffusion”. Given Canada’s current commitment to bringing up to 25,000 Syrian refugees, most of which are expected to be settled across the GTA, our language landscape will be inevitably changed but the changed language needs might not be accurately captured if they are based on estimates versus the evidence.

The Language Heat Map has a potential to change long-held perceptions about language needs and potentially influence the creation of language policies.

3. Future - Given the commitment expressed at the federal level by Canada's Action Plan on Open Government 2014-16 to release all data on all contracts over $10,000 via a centralized, machine-readable database combined with the Toronto massive open – data release by April 1st, 2016, creating accurate interactive maps is strongly supported by the current political climate that is favouring open data use.

As an organization committed to transparency and community empowerment, we want not only to create a tool but also to share it with the public, free of charge. Our hope is that The Language Heat Map will promote understanding about where the actual language needs are and promote our joined efforts to address these needs effectively and collaboratively.

We are keenly aware of ongoing challenges related to data corruption, fidelity and collection, not to mention issues with data clarification, but we still feel strongly that the Language Heat Map has the potential to become a powerful tool of evidence-based petitioning for language rights on behalf of our diverse linguistic communities. By creating this Map for public use and improvement, our vision is that other GTA language and public work agencies, hospitals and police service networks will contribute their data sets for better transparency, accuracy and access.

Eventually, we hope to prove that having access to The Language Heat Map will potentially be useful to all levels of government to make necessary policy adjustments based on the evidence provided.

4. Video Entry – Social Impact of Translation Manifesto 5.

Bonus Points - The Language Heat Map project aligns deeply with The Resonant Group of Companies’ corporate values of Trust, Family, Excellence, Care and Integrity, especially with the values of Care for Our Local and Our Global Community. With a growing demand for language services, a long track record of success, and deep roots in the community, MCIS Language Services has positioned itself to perpetually demonstrate that there is a better way to conduct business when we take into account the needs of our local and global communities.

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