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New Apps Help Keep Canadian Native Languages Alive

In an attempt to keep some of Canada’s most endangered native languages alive, advocates are turning to Apple, according to Canada.com. Working in conjunction with First Nation tribes and the First Peoples Cultural Foundation, a group of developers called FirstVoices has just released apps for the Sencoten and Halq’emeylem languages on the iPad, iPod and iPhone.

Sencoten is spoken by the Saanich people of Vancouver Island. The language is in dire straits; at this time, only about 10 people can speak it fluently.  Halq’emeylem, which is spoken by a group of related tribes in Vancouver’s Fraser Valley, has about 225 speakers according to Ethnologue. However, according to Wikipedia in 2000 it was estimated that less than a dozen were actually fluent. Read more

Braille Keyboard for Tablets

For several years, smooth, sleek touchscreens have dominated the tech gadget world. Touchscreens are said to be more intuitive than other input methods, as even infants instinctively know how to use them.

However, the touchscreen revolution has left one group of people sitting on the sidelines: those who can’t see the shiny screen or its colorful array of icons.  Now, a research team participating in a development competition at Stanford University has created the first-ever touchscreen Braille keyboard.

Stanford Professor Adrian Lew, one of three researchers on the team, told the BBC that the application developed during the competition could be a big help to the visually impaired once it becomes widely distributed:

“Imagine being blind in the classroom, how would you take notes? What if you were on the street and needed to copy down a phone number? These are real challenges the blind grapple with every day.” Read more