Multilingual computing – 43

October 22, 2012 in Challenge

There is a proportion of the older population in the UK for who the barrier to the use of online information and communication is not just about the technology, but because their first language and their language of primary literacy is not English.

Fortunately the Web in recent years, and the Windows and Macintosh operating systems and apps, have embraced Unicode, and are therefore able to display information in e.g. Chinese, Hindi, Thai… for the left-to-right languages such as Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu there may be additional issues of application support, but Web-based apps do quite well here. But if people want to type in their own language (assuming they have typing literacy in the language), they may need appropriately configured keyboards, keyboard drivers/mappers, and appropriate software.

Worthy of investigation may be the following gaps in technical provision: access to fonts that are capable of displaying these languages on people’s computers – use by Web information providers of dynamically embedded digital font sets to get round the issue – availability of keyboard drivers and mutilingual apps – provision of these font, system and app resources on public access computers (e.g. in public libraries).

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