was inspired by the Civic Hack route offered at PennApps XII in order to help those who struggle with English or technology skills to successfully complete legal forms that can be especially daunting. We take common forms offered by the IRS (e.g. W-9) in PDF format, parse the form into plain text and apply foreign-language translation. We then display the form as easy-to-read questions to the user that they answer in simple one-line responses. Finally, we auto-populate the PDF form and provide the completed form to the user. It's that simple! targets a wide range of demographics and responds to the need of increased inclusion in the American legal system. We envision helping those whose first language is not necessarily English, who find themselves struggling to understand confusing instructions, and who are not computer-savvy.

In the future, we'd like to extend this service beyond IRS forms to include more general government forms as well as more non-trivial applications such as reimbursement forms or college applications.

We deployed the backend using Microsoft Azure as a Python/Flask API on an Ubuntu VM. Our front-end was deployed on Heroku using Angular.JS, Express.JS, and Node.JS along with JavaScript/HTML/CSS. We also used many PDF libraries available in Python such as PDFMiner, PDFTK, and FDFGen. Machine translation (to foreign languages) was handled using the Yandex API.

It was a great learning and bonding experience for the JERK team (Jeanette, Eddie, Rishabh, and Kaitlyn) to work on and create this civic hack. Enjoy!

  • The JERK Team
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