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Tools to Help Courts Improve ODR Communications Now Available

Rachel Feinstein, April 9th, 2024

RSI has completed the first phase of the ODR Party Engagement (OPEN) Project! We are excited to share what we have learned from our research and to roll out new downloadable tools designed to support courts. A summary of our research, our full report and the tools can be found in a new section of our website.

Report cover: Making ODR More Accessible to Self-Represented Parties: Focus Group Perspectives

The Study

For this extensive study, RSI conducted six focus groups with a total of 41 participants from three areas of the country. Our aim was to uncover barriers to using court-referred text-based ODR (online dispute resolution) and ways courts can address these barriers. More information about the study, a summary of the findings and key takeaways are available on the OPEN Project section of our website, in addition to the full report.   

Tools for Courts

Informed by our research findings, RSI developed tools to help courts communicate more effectively about ODR. The two downloadable documents, “Communicating Effectively about ODR: A Guide for Courts” and a “Document Preparation Worksheet and Checklist for ODR Programs,” are both accessible on our website.

The Guide for Courts provides recommendations for developing documents, websites and video tutorials for ODR that are easy to understand and use, particularly for those who have low literacy and are self-represented.

The Document Preparation Worksheet and Checklist walks readers through each step of the document prep process, from considering the characteristics of the audience to determining the key content to include and the best way to communicate this content. Once documents are completed, the interactive checklist provides an opportunity to review the material and ensure all key recommendations were incorporated.

Next Up in Phase 2: Model Materials

RSI is very proud of what we have accomplished in Phase 1, and there is more to come! We are now starting Phase 2, in which we will work with an inclusive designer to create model court documents, a brief informational ODR video and a mockup webpage, using our findings from Phase 1 and previous research on best practices.

We will user-test these models to learn what barriers persist for people when attempting to use the models to register for ODR. After all our user-testing is complete and barriers have been addressed, courts will be able to download the final model documents, video and webpage to use as examples when developing their communications. This will provide added support to courts with limited resources, who will be able to simply replicate these models and tailor them to their specific needs and audience using instructions we will provide. 

RSI is grateful for the generous support of the American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation for making the OPEN Project possible.

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