How do you reach and communicate with people with low- or zero-literacy skills who live in last-mile communities where there’s no infrastructure, electricity, or internet? How do you get your message across if they only speak a local language? This is a challenge under normal circumstances, but what happens in a pandemic?

Since 2007, Amplio has been providing an inclusive digital solution for sharing knowledge with low-literate people in rural, remote communities. Early on, our Talking Book audio device was field-tested in schools in Ghana. More often learning takes place outdoors—ideally, under a tree for shade. Today, our partners use Talking Books to address cross-cutting issues and sectors, including agriculture, health, and gender. With the Talking Book, they can deliver hours of targeted content in a community’s local language, with multiple topics and playlists.

Over the past year, our partners have been able to leverage and adapt Talking Books to reach vulnerable communities, deliver accurate and consistent messages about COVID-19, support social distancing, and continue their important educational work.

In 2020, Amplio passed a major milestone: Talking Books have now reached over one million listeners. Our Talking Book programs and partnership are expanding to new countries and regions in spite of the global pandemic. Or perhaps even as a result.

In a recent video about communication during a public health crisis, Dena Morris, a member of Amplio’s governing board, and Ghana Health Service staff shared their thoughts on using Talking Books for health education during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

“Communication is the really first and most important thing to think about when a health crisis emerges, because people are scared. There’s not an immediate understanding of what’s happening or how severe is the risk or how do I protect myself from that,” said Morris, an Amplio board member who led the Washington DC office of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is the former president and CEO of Washington Global Health Alliance.

“I think the Talking Book can be a particularly effective tool for responding to a health crisis, because we’re able to fill that communications need quickly and effectively. We’re able to load the Talking Book with basic information—specialize, localized information—and we can do that in a way that amplifies the credibility of the people who are speaking.”

Read the full article about reaching last-mile communities by Erin Inclan at Global Washington.