EMPOWER VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES THROUGH KNOWLEDGE SHARING
Who we are
Amplio is a Seattle-based nonprofit that provides inclusive digital technology to help governments and global development organizations widen their reach and impact in rural, remote, off-grid communities. With our rugged, easy-to-use Talking Book audio device, organizations can provide access to information that enables low-literate adults and youth to gain new skills and knowledge to improve their livelihoods and lives.
Since 2007, Talking Book programs have reached over 600,000 people in Ghana, Kenya, and Rwanda, empowering families to grow more food, earn income, and keep their children safe and healthy.
In order to reach 600 million people, Amplio partners with organizations like UNESCO, USAID, World Vision, and the World Bank; governments; and local NGOs. As a result, we are developing new partnerships in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia, and beyond.
Amplio Talking Book
Our Mission and Values
Amplio’s mission is to empower the world’s most vulnerable communities through knowledge sharing. Our work is guided by the following values:
Learning: Individually and as a team, we try new ideas, learn from our successes and failures, and share our learning with others.
Partnership: Through teamwork and collaboration, we can more effectively reach and impact the world’s most vulnerable communities.
Respect: We listen closely to the voices of others, especially those we serve, and value their insights and feedback.
Responsibility: We continually update and improve our technology and services to ensure Talking Book partner and program success.
Transparency: We communicate openly about what is working and what is not, and challenge each other’s thinking and expectations, to build trust.
Amplio’s quality assurance manager Lisa Zook recently joined a Global Washington panel to discuss how COVID-19 has impacted child labor. Lisa shared insights on the important role schools play in child well-being and how a Talking Book program has been adapted for COVID-19 response. She suggests the pandemic may offer lessons on how to create a more equitable and sustainable future.
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.
Founder Cliff Schmidt field tested the Talking Book with communities in Ghana.
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.
Community members provided feedback about the Talking Book design.
PLANNING FOR SUSTAINABILITY
Through partnerships with the best organizations in global development, Amplio is working to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Since 2007, Talking Book programs have reached vulnerable populations with vital information, ranging from technical advice from agriculture experts to children’s songs about health and safety to audio dramas with social and economic empowerment messages that inform women about their rights to property and a voice within their communities.
To help our partners more efficiently and effectively scale their programs, we are continually working to update and improve our technology and services.
Amplio now offers full-service and self-service Talking Book program options. In 2020, we’ll be launching an online training portal and a new version of the Talking Book that works 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 MEDA to provide Talking Books for 600 women’s groups within MEDA’s Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) project.
Partnered with UNICEF Ghana to reach 49 communities in the Upper West Region 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.
Phone: +1 (206) 973-0499
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