Did you know that Avaz AAC is available in the Faroese language? Faroese is the language spoken on the Faroe Islands. The story of how this version of Avaz AAC came to be is an inspiring one. This blog tells you all about it
Heidi, our Denmark partner runs the Autism Society of Denmark. In 2018, through Heidi, Aimi Justinussen got to know about Avaz. She is the parent of 14 year old Brandur who has complex communication needs. The possibilities offered by Avaz Dansk to children with her son’s needs were incredibly exciting to her. It was then that she decided that she wanted a Faroese version of Avaz.
Faroe Islands is a beautiful little island country in the Atlantic Ocean. It is home to a population of 50,000. There were no AAC apps available in Faroese back then. Aimi is a passionate parent who was driven by the cause of offering communicative independence to her son. She would leave no stone unturned to achieve this.
To kickstart this journey, Aimi Justinussen wrote a proposal to the Ministry of Education in the Faroe Islands. The proposal, seeking funds to develop the Faroese version of the app, required a proof of concept. Hence, Avaz built an initial prototype to include with the proposal. The Ministry responded positively and released funds in parts.
Three months later, Team Avaz was able to exhibit a beta version in a conference at the Faroe Islands.
Building an AAC tool in any language, requires knowing how to modify and support that language’s vocabulary. This requires a thorough understanding of the language’s structure and morphology. It was a fascinating process for the team to learn and understand Faroese. This was especially so considering that none of the team members at Avaz knew the language.
Faroese, unlike English, has three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine and neutral. In a way, it is somewhat similar to Hindi, an Indian language. Hindi also has two grammatical genders: masculine and feminine.
The process of translating Faroese words to English was a not as simple. The unstinted support of Aimi and Kristin, a Faroese Special Educator, was what made it possible. It took many revisions and discussions to get the word forms, sentence structure, and language structures accurately.
The beta version of Avaz Faroese was finally ready in early 2019. We now needed to fine tune it.
In March 2019, Kirstin and Aimi traveled down to Chennai, India, where the Avaz office is located. The team worked alongside them to perfect the nuances of the language in the app. During their stay here, they not only got to work with the developers and the testers but also visited schools that use Avaz. They had firsthand experience of how Avaz is being used by children, educators, and parents in India.
Working together in person, after months of online collaboration, was a great experience. We were able to personally feel their drive to get this version built. This motivated the team at Avaz to give their best too.
The Last Mile
The last mile in any marathon is the toughest. Aimi and Kirstin sent numerous screenshots, messages, and recordings to highlight the many minor tweaks and modifications. This was vital, in order to get everything just right.
After nearly 8 months of intense collaborative work, Avaz Faroese was ready. We released the iOS version in August, 2019.
A parent’s passion and commitment is what led us to develop an AAC app for a language spoken by about 50,000 people. Today, we have a an Android version in Faroese, in addition to the iOS one.
This experience gave Team Avaz a blueprint to work in languages that aren’t widely spoken. The impact of Avaz Faroese is not restricted to Faroe Islands alone. It was, and continues to be, a crucial milestone in our journey in Making Every Voice Heard.
Are there currently no AAC solutions in the language you use? Are you looking to provide the best AAC tool in your language? We would LOVE to make Avaz AAC available in the language you need!
To collaborate with us and build Avaz AAC in your language, write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org