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BBL - The Talking Book for Africa

Presenter:Cliff Schmidt, Executive Director, Literacy Bridge
Chair:Peter Darvas, Sr. Education Economist, Africa Region, World Bank
Michael Trucano, Sr. ICT Policy Specialist, Education, World Bank


The innovative Talking Book Project develops new and affordable digital audio technology to provide vital information and literacy training to people with limited access to either, in the form of locally recorded, spoken content on an interactive audio device. The technology is being used for two major purposes: training of reading skills and communication of information. A pilot was completed in Northern Ghana in 2009. In his talk, Cliff Schmidt will discuss the animating principles behind the project, the results from a recent pilot introduction in Northern Ghana, and future plans. The Talking Book device will also be demo'ed.

About the Literacy Bridge Project:
Literacy Bridge began with the idea that the most effective approach towards ending global poverty requires empowering people with better access to knowledge, and that those in greatest need are impeded by illiteracy, disability, and inadequate infrastructure.

During a research trip to the Upper West region of Ghana in mid-2007, this idea expanded to recognize that the most crucial knowledge is already available within developing countries; the problem is efficiently reaching individuals who need it most. Based on three months of field research and feedback from numerous Ghanaian organizations, the Talking Book Project has set out to use digital audio technology to improve literacy skills for children and adults, while also enabling knowledge to be shared with those who do not have access to text.

Supported by hundreds of individual donations and thousands of volunteer hours, Literacy Bridge completed R&D, produced 100 Talking Book Devices, and began feasibility studies in January 2009 throughout a rural district of northern Ghana. Based on the encouraging reports from local nongovernmental organizations, health clinics, agriculture extension offices, and the district’s education system, Literacy Bridge is working with dozens of organizations around the world to expand the Talking Book Program.

Presentation Materials
Ghana Education Snapshot 
Literacy Bridge’s Talking Book 

Related Links
-For more information about Literacy Bridge and the Taking Book web site
-For more information about the World Bank's ICT and Education 
-For more information on the World Bank's e-Development Thematic Group


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