TO EMPOWER VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES THROUGH KNOWLEDGE SHARING
Who we are
Amplio is a Seattle nonprofit that uses technology and services to share knowledge with the world’s most vulnerable communities. We bridge the gap for people with low literacy skills in remote areas, including women and men from oral cultures, through our Talking Book — a rugged, easy-to-use audio device that runs on batteries. Users can access a library of engaging, culturally relevant, actionable content in their local language to improve their health, income, and quality of life. Because our technology collects usage data and user feedback, our partners can identify barriers to development goals and gain deeper insight into the communities they serve.
At Amplio, we believe knowledge is a tool that can transform lives. But millions of people living in poverty don’t have access to the knowledge they need. By ensuring that knowledge reaches those who can’t read and who live in remote communities without electricity, we empower people to improve their health, income, and quality of life.
Our Talking Book audio device puts knowledge in the hands of those who need it most.
A moment at Martin Luther King Jr.’s memorial in Atlanta ignited a powerful impulse for Amplio’s founder and executive director, Cliff Schmidt. With a successful technology career, Cliff realized that there was more he could do to help others. Back home in Seattle, Cliff founded Literacy Bridge (re-named Amplio in 2018) to address global poverty. He developed the Talking Book with the idea that the most effective approach to ending global poverty requires empowering people with better access to knowledge, and that those in greatest need are impeded by illiteracy. He envisioned using the innovative, low-cost audio device to promote literacy for children in developing countries. But on a research trip to Ghana to test his prototype, Cliff met community health workers and agriculture specialists who had a different idea. They saw the device as an innovative technology for sharing critical information with people in remote communities.
A user-centric approach to ICT4D
Development workers in Ghana told Cliff about the challenges of making rounds in remote, rural areas to teach communities how to raise healthier children or grow more food. There were too many villages, they said, too far apart. When there was a rare visit from an agriculture or health extension worker, many people couldn’t attend and those who did couldn’t take notes or read informational flyers because they were illiterate. It was through conversations in the field that Cliff realized the Talking Book’s value as a tool for delivering critical health and agriculture messages to remote communities. Unlike other information and communications technology for development (ICT4D) tools and technologies, the Talking Book was designed from the start specifically for people who can’t read and who live in the poorest and most marginalized communities, where there’s no electricity grid or network. Feedback from rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa further influenced the design, from the Talking Book’s bright colors and durable case that’s made to withstand tough conditions, to the picture-based menu people use to navigate. The menu is also embossed so that people who are blind or who listen in the dark can navigate by touch.
PLANNING FOR GREATER SUSTAINABILITY
Since 2007, Talking Book programs have reached nearly 600,000 people in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda with vital information, ranging from agricultural advice, hygiene advice, and songs about children’s health and safety, to audio dramas with social and economic empowerment messages that inform women about their rights to property and to a voice within their communities.
Through partnerships with the best organizations in global development, Amplio seeks to empower the world’s most vulnerable communities and achieve the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. A Talking Book V2 is currently in development that will use an ARM-based microprocessor and work with rechargeable batteries.
With support from ARM, Amplio is developing a Talking Book v2 that will work with rechargeable batteries and an ARM microprocessor chip.
Operating in East Africa through new and existing partnerships as well as amplifying our reach with UNICEF throughout Northern Ghana.
Piloted Talking Book program in rural Kenya and developed affiliate program model.
Partnered with AGRA to provide Talking Book programs for smallholder farmers in 73 communities throughout Northern Ghana.
Partnered with Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) to provide Talking Books for 600 women’s groups within MEDA’s Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) project.
Partnered with UNICEF to reach 49 communities in the Upper West Region of Ghana with maternal and child health education.
Signed first partnership with World Cocoa Foundation.
First Talking Book prototypes designed and field tested.
Literacy Bridge (now Amplio) founded.
Amplio is a US-based nonprofit that helps international organizations, governments, and local NGOs share knowledge through audio technology to amplify their reach in underserved, low-literate communities.
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