ILAD’s Areas of Expertise
Business Development Centers
Business Development Centers (BDC’s) enable community development by teaching the language of business. Often excluded from mainstream markets, marginalized people are at a disadvantage when accessing commercial activities that can help them provide for their families and communities. By leveraging the business tools provided through the BDC’s, individuals are given an opportunity to learn how to startup and manage a business in their own language that benefits themselves and their community. This entry into the economic mainstream is particularly empowering for women, who are often at a cultural disadvantage. Combined with literacy training, business training is a powerful tool that lifts people from poverty and promotes a positive impact on the world around them.
Human Language Technology
Innovations in Human Language Technology (HLT) offer significant potential for helping under-resourced language communities find their voice. With its emphasis on local language empowerment, ILAD seeks to be a pioneer in this new field. HLT optimizes how computers interact with human language and expedites the documentation and description of languages in order to facilitate translation between languages. Whether text-to-text, text-to-speech, speech-to-text, or speech-to-speech, machine translation can help overlooked communities finally be understood in the world. HLT has the potential to bring essential educational resources to communities in a way they can understand, and to offer new capabilities to the communities we work among. In collaboration with researchers and universities, ILAD is gathering and annotating data from the languages we work with so that these communities will be among the first to reap the benefits of these exciting new tools.
Many marginalized people live in rural areas and rely entirely on the land for survival. Through agricultural training, farmers are able to implement new strategies based on best practices for growing crops in their location. Training, combined with micro-finance services and access to markets, gives subsistence farmers the ability to increase production, acquire land, and improve their livelihoods. This cycle strengthens the health of entire rural communities.
Local Language Literacy
As the world becomes increasingly digital, the concept of literacy has evolved beyond reading and writing. We aim to strengthen under-resourced language communities that seek to thrive within multilingual environments. We partner with them to create mother-tongue resources for education and language planning with a focus on the 21st century literacy skills through oral, visual, written, and digital forms. Mother-tongue literacy offers a strong foundation for cognitive development and academic achievement in the majority culture, while also validating and showing people the inherent value of their language.