September 2, 2014

Informing The World's Illiterate Through a Mobile Device

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InSTEDD's iLab Southeast Asia (SEA), an innovation lab located in Phnom Phenh, takes on the illiteracy challenge. Joseph Agoada, Communications Advisor, InSTEDDc explains how they do it, for the Huffington Post.

quotemarksright.jpg... In Cambodia, programs delivering critical information via mobile texts to citizens were disrupted by scripting of the local language, Khmer. Many of the second hand phones that the vulnerable population used did not have the ability to type or show words in the Khmer script language, making texted information unreadable and unproduceable.

Through initial interviews with both end users and program implementing organizations, assumptions about the problem were generated about the illiteracy and readability problem, contexts became intimately understood, and potential solutions around use of voice systems were proposed, tested and improved upon. Out of that iterative process came VerboiceTM an adaptable open-source tool that made it easy for anyone, speaking any language, to create and run their own customized interactive voice response systems for mobile phones.

Since its inception in 2011, Verboice has been used to make over 2 million calls worldwide, and is being deployed by dozens of organizations across sectors, cultures and countries for projects ranging from health related reminder calls for maternal n in East Africa to an election information hotline in Southeast Asia. The technology acts an innovation building block that can be plugged-in or build on top of existing work and tools while operating in the background.quotesmarksleft.jpg

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