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SIL International Media Release


UNESCO and SIL International Promote Multilingualism in Cyberspace

DALLAS, TX (January 20, 2003) – Meetings between UNESCO and SIL are being held this week to formalize an agreement regarding the promotion of multilingualism on the web. “We were encouraged to learn last year of UNESCO’S desire to promote multilingualism in cyberspace. Their concern overlaps a great deal with SIL’s efforts to facilitate the use of non-Roman and complex scripts in linguistic study, literacy, translation and publishing,” says, Dr. Paul S. Frank, Vice President of Academic Affairs for SIL. "UNESCO and SIL share a common concern in finding technical solutions for hundreds of minority languages that have complex writing systems and thus are left out of the cyber-connected world," he stated.

The meetings include details on the use of SIL produced software, Graphite, which will help minority languages with complex scripts bridge the cyber-gap. Discussions will include future cooperation within the framework of the UNESCO project, the Initiative B@bel, "a program to promote the concept of universal access to information in all languages in cyberspace." In addition to Dr. Frank, attendees at this week's meetings include Paul G. C. Hector and Davide Storti, representing the Information Society Division of UNESCO; David Pearson, SIL Representative to UNESCO, Jesse Johnston, SIL International Relations officer, and Dennis Drescher, Director of SIL's NonRoman Script Initiative.

Topics included in the discussion are how SIL will develop ways to enable software applications to input and display data; how SIL will provide basic documentation of Graphite that will enable software developers to incorporate Graphite into other software; how to create a web browser that will display content in complex scripts, and UNESCO’s promotion of Graphite to its member states through the Initiative B@bel.