Australia’s Indigenous languages are declining at one of the fastest rates in the world. Globally, a language disappears every 14 days. These statistics are both alarming and avoidable. In 2017, The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF) partnered with Josephmark to define a solution.
Preservation was our first step. In order to conserve Australia’s first languages, we had to design a system that could easily capture every element of a dialect – words, syllables, sounds and phonograms – to build out dictionaries, stories and handwriting tools.
By designing an in-line editor and admin tool, communities can create and edit their own resources, meaning there’s no need for an intermediary and the product can be adopted by many communities and scale more quickly.
For the experience to feel authentic to Indigenous Australians, we worked closely with our sister studio Gilimbaa and artist Tarni O’Shea to ensure all cultural elements were inclusive.
Serving to protect and celebrate Indigenous languages is a key step toward reconciliation, and since launch, the platform has been actively used in communities around Australia.
In March 2019, the Living First Languages platform won SXSW’s Interactive Innovation Award for Innovation in Connecting People, which honours the most forward-thinking way to connect and communicate with others.
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