UAE | General

Blind Arabic speakers can join Twitter community

Volunteers have set out to integrate the language to assist the blind

  • By Nada Al Taher, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 21:30 June 7, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Screen grab
  • Since its creation in 2009, the team of volunteers, popularly known as Taghreedat, has set out to integrate the Arabic language into modern-day applications.

Abu Dhabi: Visually impaired, tech-savvy Arabic speakers will soon have a platform to become part of the ever-growing Twitter population after 9,000 internet users from 33 countries joined forces on a special project.

Since its creation in 2009, the team of volunteers, popularly known as Taghreedat, has set out to integrate the Arabic language into modern-day applications in marketing, education, entertainment and social networking.

“Our localisation projects started in 2011 when we created the first ever Arabic Twitter glossary which comprised 2,000 words. Fast forwarding to 2013, we have worked with Easy Chirp who was initially providing a Twitter client in English for the visually impaired,” said Taghreedat co-founder Mina Fatla.

Also known as a form of assistive technology, the Twitter client will read out ‘tweets’ and other items on the website in Arabic.

“The regular Twitter application, which users are accustomed to, is more visual than usable for the visually impaired. This application simplifies Twitter for blind users and is an open and free tool,” Fatla told Gulf News.

The project is in its final stages and will become available to users during the summer.

Taghreedat has so far worked on 15 localisation projects with major international companies and groups such as TEDx and Disney.

“People from different educational, cultural and religious backgrounds all with a common love for the Arabic language have joined us on a journey which proved to international companies, technology communities and even government entities, just how powerful the Arabic social media user is,” said Sami Mubarak, who is also a co-founder.

While working on projects with manufacturing companies Taghreedat helped personalise the message which their clients were hoping to send across to Arabic speaking audiences. According to Mubarak this strategy helped internationally recognised brands develop a more intimate understanding of the Middle East and other Arabic speaking countries.

Recently Taghreedat announced its partnership with Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider Coursera, alongside a user-base of 1,000 UAE volunteers, to help translate and make available many university-level courses into Arabic. Participating universities include Stanford, Yale, Colombia, Georgia, Princeton and many others with UAE universities expected to follow soon.

“Anyone can benefit from the Arabised courses which will be available to the public in September,” the co-founders said.

Anyone interested in participating can join the project by visiting bit.ly/arabicedu

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