Mother Tongues is a proposal for an open source network of digital phrasebook addressing migrant communities lack of language skills.
Started as an implementation of phrasebooks being distributed in refugee camps to facilitate communication in the absence of interpreters, it aims to become a service supporting migrants’ settlement in European cities.
In times of migration crisis, it aims to facilitate communication in emergency situations as much as fostering social inclusion while accomplishing daily life tasks. It also empowers individuals to contribute to the social good of their local community, by using cheap tech, off-the-shelf components and relying on a non-commercial, open source infrastructure.
The network consists of a series of digital devices streaming translations as digital content – written text, audio recordings, icons – broadcasted by media wi-fi servers scattered around the city and readable through any laptop or mobile device. Basic unit of the project is in fact a “tongue”: an open source single board computer (Raspberry pi) connected to a SD card, a wi-fi dongle and a USB charger. The SD memory contains the content being broadcasted and users can access it by just connecting to an open wi-fi, without need for Internet or apps.
Tongues can be placed in specific locations where migrants are required to interact with locals, without an interpreter, using specific vocabulary. Asking for directions at a train station, enquiring about their rights with a lawyer, describing their symptoms to a doctor. The interface displayed on a smartphone connected to any “tongue wifi” allows to browse existing translations and add new ones. Tailoring the service to the needs of the community using it.