[Telecentres] Basic Telecenter Items

Donald Z. Osborn dzo at bisharat.net
Thu Sep 30 02:01:32 BST 2004

Permit me to suggest a set of items for near the top of the list that have to do
with "soft access" or "meaningful access" to the computer and internet.

Quoting Gopi Pradhan <gopi at apdip.net>:

> RE: [Telecentres] Re: telecentres Digest, Vol 1, Issue 43
> Hi all,
> while I agree with the definition, we should note that a telecenter is NOT
> only about computer and Internet. Before we attempt to define, it will be
> good to list down what an ideal telecenter should have.
> Let me start the list. 
> 1)     Computers connected to Internet, if possible with Open Software

1a) Language-localized software where available. 
1b) Fonts (almost invariably Unicode these days) for all languages used in the
1c) Keyboard driver(s) for composition using non-ASCII characters or non-Latin
alphabets (where these are not available 1a). Another option is graphic tablet
keyboards (these can be used alongside the traditional keyboard - this is an
option for Amharic and Tigrinya, for instance, and I understand that there is
interest in Morocco for Arabic and perhaps Tifinagh script).
1d) Software to facilitate use of audio, such as voice e-mail

These may be more than obvious in many places, but not all. I know that in
Africa some ICT projects assume away people's first languages and others make
positive noises but do little, even when it's quite simple to implement. A
telecenter makes choices about what it makes available to users, and the choice
to include or not to include local language capacities and interfaces that
accommodate people with different language/literacy skills is a significant

It was encouraging in this context to note that the press release for the
recently launched Luganda web browser made reference to its potential use in
telecenters to accommodate the many users in Uganda who speak Luganda and are
not that comfortable with using English.

We had a discussion about this broad issue in the African context on the
a12n-collaboration group during Dec. 2002-Jan. 2003 under the subject
"'Internet-ready' computers?"  Anyone interested can check the archives at

On another topic, one may want to include on the list:

24) Trained personnel for the telecenter (and training for the telecenter

Don Osborn

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