Hard Plastic Books That Talk

Last year at LinuxWorld Expo, I had the opportunity to speak with Cliff Schmidt, the Executive Director at Literacy Bridge. At that point, Cliff was showing off an audio recording device with the eventual plan of being able to distribute sub-$10 gadgets that would allow for education and collaboration in struggling third-world countries. The little device that was literally in pieces back at LinuxWorld now is being used in Ghana as part of a pilot program.

Although in many ways the less than $10 “Talking Books” lack features of the OLPC laptops, they also offer some advantages over their big brothers. The first is obviously in cost. Second, the audio-only interaction enables education where illiteracy often is a stumbling block. Paired with freely available audio recordings and the ability to record and share additional content, the Talking Books will be able to reach people that even the OLPC Project left behind.

Cliff Schmidt is the Executive Director of Literacy Bridge.

The Talking Books currently are being tested in Ghana.

______________________

Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter

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If literacy is a stumbling block, it should be addressed first

Mark Dittmer's picture

This project does look promising, especially considering the price.

However, Shawn Powers wrote:

the audio-only interaction enables education where illiteracy often is a stumbling block. Paired with freely available audio recordings and the ability to record and share additional content, the Talking Books will be able to reach people that even the OLPC Project left behind.

Perhaps this is a matter of personal opinion, but I think there is a whole other side to this comment. If citizens in areas where this technology is used are illiterate, then projects such as OLPC should be shipping with better literacy-building software. To say that this gadget is more attractive because it reaches out to an illiterate populace is avoiding an issue more important than accessibility of sound-byted literature. If anything, I would say the second advantage to this product would be accessibility for the visually impaired, not the illiterate.

//Mark

Both?

Shawn Powers's picture

If anything, I would say the second advantage to this product would be accessibility for the visually impaired, not the illiterate.

True, and I think we're both right. I think illiteracy is more rampant in the areas the audio-books are going than visual impairment -- but I don't think there has to just be one good reason. :)

Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter

Where exactly?

Anonymous's picture

i'm heading home (ghana) soon and i'd like to be able to go see these schools that are using them. anyone know where i can go see them? if the program is still running in the field.

I'm not sure

Shawn Powers's picture

I'm not really sure -- but if you go to their website I believe there is contact information. I'm sure they could give more specifics.

Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter

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