The Talking Book Program
Our mission is to significantly improve the health, income, and quality of life for the world’s most underserved communities by providing life-changing knowledge through innovative technology.
At the heart of our program is the Talking Book – an innovative, low-cost audio computer designed for the learning needs of illiterate populations.
Over 750 million adults are illiterate and 800 million people farm in order to feed their families on their earnings of less than a dollar a day. Opportunities for illiterate adults to access knowledge and acquire new skills in remote areas of developing countries are virtually non-existent, but critical to successful development efforts and poverty reduction.
The chance for farmers to learn new farming techniques that will increase their crop yields; expecting mothers to learn how to treat and prevent life-threatening diarrhea; or children to learn basic sanitation measures is virtually non-existent. Learning these skills is critical to survival and well-being. Yet an effective on-demand method of delivery for these common knowledge practices to illiterate populations hasn’t existed, until now.
Currently, delivering agriculture information is impractical. Because of bad road conditions and remote locations, not every village is fortunate enough to have regular agriculture extension agent visits. But when an agent can reach a village, the up-to-date farming techniques shared by the agent are often times lost, shortly after that agent leaves. There is no method to take notes because so few people are literate. The same problems face health agents in their efforts to disseminate lessons on maternal and child health care and disease prevention.
But the Talking Book Program solves all of these problems. Relevant and practical information on sustainable farming methods and key health practices are produced and recorded in partnership with local government agencies and non-government agencies to meet community needs. This results in higher crop yields, improved nutrition, and a dramatic reduction of preventable deaths.
In 2009, Literacy Bridge first piloted an agriculture study with the Talking Book in the Upper West Region of Ghana. A village was elected that met the criteria of our target population: Low literacy rates, high rural population in poverty, lack of electricity, low levels of internet access, medium to high expenditure to extension services (agriculture and health), accessible decision makers and low government corruption. The success that resulted from the pilot grew the initial study into a formal Talking Book Program.