In our web-mediated semio-sphere, new media can help obviate lingua-cultural hurdles in interpersonal and intergroup communication, especially in the landscape of the (multi-ethnic) socio-legal care. Relevant examples are the new interactive websites for providing legal advice and for helping people fill out the required forms, by reporting events in a legally acceptable and effective style. Such websites are proliferating in many States of the U.S.A. and are more especially dedicated to low-income people, and to their non-profit advocates. They display very user-friendly interfaces, and, most importantly, are often bilingual. As part of an ongoing research project, the present study analyses the ???Kansas Safety Plan and Protection Order Information and Resources for Kansas???, which provides ???must-know??? information about Kansas protection orders, both in English and in Spanish (Hispanics being the largest ethnic group in the U.S.). Protective Order (PO) applicants in the U.S. are usually battered women of various ethnic origin. A protective order application interview (POI), conducted by socio-legal professionals, is what victims of domestic violence have to pass through when they decide to ask for assistance in social or legal institutional settings. Such interviews contribute substantially to informing the judges??? conclusions, thus affecting the applicants??? future lives. Moreover, POIs entail lay vs. professional exchanges where U.S. Anglo value system can clash with different ethnic beliefs and identities. Hence, POIs can be face-threatening speech events, especially considering the applicants??? limited English capabilities ??? given their various ethnic origin. In particular, qualitative data from POIs were analysed in the context of these dialogistic interviewers/interviewees encounters. However, as the present analysis will highlight, effective discursive support is not easily provided by the socio-legal professionals, though its relevance is emphasized in literature, due to limitations in terms of time and human resources. Instead, ???Kansas Safety Plan and PO Information??? website provides a guided interview which explains important safety considerations, necessary qualifications, court procedures, possible relief, resources and other considerations which are necessary prior to seeking a PO, and does so in a simple, factual language, both in the English and the Spanish versions. Our comparative analysis of both ???human-conducted??? and computer-mediated POIs highlights how and to what extent the latter provide easily accessible, effective information on and guide through legal resources, also to applicants with limited English skills, in a non-face-threatening style. Thus applicants can be consistently facilitated to overcome lingua-cultural difficulties by such computer-mediated POIs, whereas ???human-conducted??? POIs, not infrequently, fail to achieve such results. In this perspective, discourse-based studies can help to highlight the need for change in administering POIs.
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