A Digital Voice for All: SIL at World Summit on the Information Society

"We are closer than ever to the day when commonly available computers will be able to work with all of the world's languages; when all languages will have a digital voice."

- Dennis Drescher, SIL senior software developer

At the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunisia, SIL releases a package of free, open-source software.* The package includes Graphite, a font rendering engine which has been added to applications including Firefox, Thunderbird and OpenOffice. This breakthrough technology allows languages with complex scripts to be typed with a standard keyboard, making it possible for speakers of languages with complex scripts to write and publish content in their own languages. This development represents an important milestone in the process of making technology accessible to all of the world’s language communities.

SIL staff presented the software during session two of the WSIS Round Table, an event sponsored by New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and African Academy of Languages (ACALAN) under the auspices of the African Union. While the initial focus of SIL's presentation "A Digital Voice for All" was on Africa, the session addressed global issues affecting everyone.

The script used for the N'Ko language of West Africa is written from right to left, one of many factors that lead to complexity in script engineering and find an answer in technologies like Graphite. The Conakry N'Ko Font is available for free download from SIL's ScriptSource.

*The package includes the Keyboard Mapper for Linux, a set of smart fonts, Graphite and various Graphite-enabled applications, all free and open source.

Date:
Saturday, 5 November, 2005
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