One of the main purposes of my trip was to help local Ghanaian organizations get started creating audio content for the Talking Book device. Everyone at Literacy Bridge understands that the success of this project depends on the content. Technology is just a tool to make an existing process more efficient and more available to more people; but without good content that people want to hear, the technology is pointless. From the beginning, we’ve been emphasizing the need for the content to be created locally, but we’ve also realized that we can and should play a role in helping coordinate the creation and sharing of content
Our pilot program is scheduled to start in late August or early September, soon after the first devices are produced and tested. Since it’s important to have a preexisting library of audio content ready before the Talking Book devices are made available for use, we decided to purchase 15 off-the-shelf, digital voice recorders to loan out to local organizations, so that they create audio messages now, before our content authoring software is ready.
While in Ghana, I distributed these voice recorders to nine different groups who all made commitments to create lots of useful content over the next few months. These groups include:
- University of Development Studies (UDS)
- the Jirapa District Ghana Health Services
- the Jirapa District Ghana Education Services
- the Jirapa District office of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture
- the Wa East District Ghana Education Services
- the Wa East District office of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture
- the Rural Aid Action Programme, a local NGO based in the Jirapa District
- the Chicago State University/Ghana Textbook and Learning Materials Program (funded by USAID
Students at the University of Development Studies in Wa have already submitted many written transcripts of messages they would like to record for this project. I have been working with a professor there named Damasus Tuurosong, who introduced me to the Dean of the school and other key administrative and faculty members. They are all excited to have their students participate in this program by recording knowledge on health, business, and other areas that they feel would be most helpful to users of the Talking Book Device.
The government agencies were also extremely enthusiastic about participating in this program. They see this as an opportunity to reach more people for less cost by still doing what they do today: sharing information that is most empowering for the people they serve.
One interesting feature request that came up was the ability to get feedback from users — not just to send them information, but to listen to what people thought of the information they got or to hear any questions, suggestions, needs, or concerns. I heard this request from NGOs, government field offices, and even a UDS student.