State Workforce Agency

Delivering a Multilingual User Experience for Retroactive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance


A state partner needed to reopen applications to claimants who were previously denied benefits and determine if they are eligible to receive retroactive PUA payments.

Many claimants had not interacted with the UI system in months or possibly years, causing the potential for confusion when the department reached back out to the claimant. Others may not be able to provide accurate information about their claim, or understand clearly what was being asked. Another concern was the increased call center activity, putting additional strain on support staff working through a backlog of cases from existing claims. 

Our approach

To help combat these issues, the state agency wanted to create a self-guided experience that was clear for claimants as well as reduce load on their call center. The team focused on providing enough contextual information in order to build trust and provide clarity with claimants, and worked to test content and form design before launching the new service in order to preempt and mitigate support issues.

These materials included: 

  1. Claimant communication strategy: Outreach content that can be used for both digital and paper notifications to help claimants understand why they are being contacted and designed to mitigate for the perception of fraud/spam.
  2. Fact-finding content strategy: All 19 eligibility questions, each accompanied by legally compliant helper text optimized to increase readability, comprehension, and accuracy of responses.
  3. Fact-finding form design: Created for states using the FAST UI platform and tested for usability, this prototype can be used as a blueprint for any state, regardless of platform or vendor.

By testing these materials with both English and Spanish-speaking claimants, we believe that they will reduce the risk that typically accompanies launching a new service for workers in need of unemployment insurance benefits. In taking a multilingual approach, we are committed to supporting state efforts to improve equitable access to benefits, as primary Spanish speakers comprise the 2nd largest language demographic in the country.

"The work speaks for itself, everyone we’ve worked with has always been a professional with a clear specialization. It made it pretty easy when it came to this mountain of a problem and we didn’t have the internal capacity to engage with it the way we needed to. USDR has been our pandemic partner."

State Workforce Agency


USDR helped design the claimant UX for each of the 19 eligibility questions, ensuring that those using a desktop computer or laptop could complete the fact-finding flow as quickly as possible. Content for outreach emails, forms, and helper text for the questions were drafted and tested for readability and effectiveness. Researchers also tested the claimant’s ability to interact with the agency’s forms.

Usability testing resulted in increased comprehension scores as well as increased accuracy and confidence in responses. State partners also reported increased confidence level of stakeholders and ability to preempt common problems with new forms based on actual data.

"Navigating the government is tough in any language, so it was exciting to be a part of the effort to make PUA services more inclusive to primary Spanish speakers. It really underscored how valuable it is to look beyond the textbook translation when trying to communicate a complex topic in another language!"

Misa Misono, UX Researcher

Meet the team

Marcie Chin
Marcie is manages the Unemployment Insurance Program, specializing in strategy, UX research, and language access. She believes that the application of equity-centered design and ethical technology creates value for all people and systems.
Anais De la Sancha
Jenny Cheuk
Misa Misono
Timothy Yap
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